New women in combat rules will “pick the best people” for the job, says soldier who sued Pentagon

Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps
Power Players

On the Radar

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt is one of four women who filed a lawsuit to end the policy that kept women from the front lines of battle. In the last couple of months we saw an extraordinary change in the military lifting the ban on direct combat for women. Staff Sgt. Hunt, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was rewarded a purple heart for her time in Iraq, says ending the ban was long overdue.

The combat exclusion policy "was based on a definition that there were front lines, and there was a point where you could say these units and these places are going to experience combat, and these units and these other places won't," says Hunt. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, those lines were blurred.

"Women who were filling positions such as truck drivers, or civil affairs, or military police found themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan facing the same dangers as people who were in the infantry or men who were in other combat arms jobs," says the U.S. Army reservist.

Critics of the change in policy argue that women are not strong enough, and lack the upper body strength to, for example, pull a fellow comrade out of harm's way.

"This combat exclusion policy put gender ahead of any physical qualifications. It said we don't care if you're strong," says Hunt.

"This lifting of policy is really going to say, 'Let's look at all the qualifications - let's pick the best people for the best job.'"

Others argue that the front lines, or a small combat outpost is no place for women.

"I would say that war is probably no place for anybody," counters Hunt, "and that unfortunately we live in a world where countries engage in warfare and there are ultimately going to bring some very terrible conditions."

For more of this interview with Staff Sgt. Hunt, including how the policy change will bring new opportunities for women to move up to the highest military ranks, and her views on why having women makes the military a better fighting force, check out this episode of On the Radar.

Sherisse Pham contributed to this report.