Conflict & Justice

US Servicewomen Challenge Pentagon's Direct Combat Ban


Female Soldier Serving in Afghanistan in 2009

Women in the U-S military have long been in the line of fire.

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But up until now, they've been officially banned from serving in many direct combat jobs.

This week four women filed a federal lawsuit challenging that policy.

U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Capt. Zoe Bedell is one of the four plaintiffs seeking to overturn the Pentagon's policy barring women from some combat roles.

Capt. Bedell has been deployed twice in Afghanistan.

In her second tour, she was in charge of the Female Engagement Team — or FET — in Helmand Province.

Capt. Zoe Bedell says women in the US military are already fighting and dying alongside their male colleagues. She calls the ban on women serving in direct combat roles a relic of the past.

"It's just completely out of touch with the wars we're fighting today," she says.

A Defense Department spokeswoman said this week that the department does not respond to litigation. Capt. Bedell says she does not need to win the lawsuit to change policy.

"We don't need to solve this through the courts if there's another way," she says. "But the progress is not happening fast enough, and and it's time for this policy to go."