EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWOMEN IN COMBAT
from Eyewitness News Online
Military Officials Allow Women To Take Combat Positions
Reported by: Katy Brown
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Katy Brown
Reported: Feb. 9, 2013 4:52 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
In 2010, President Obama repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for military members. And last month, military officials took another step in fighting discrimination by allowing women to participate in combat situations.
"You really don't have one particular role when you deploy," said Kimberly Koon of the West Virginia Army National Guard, "You go where you're needed and you fill in as you go."
But to some, combat is nothing new.
"Women have had pivotal role in combat situations for many years," said Major Tanya McGonegal of the WV Army National Guard, "Our senior leaders have decided that now is the time to allow women to serve in combat units."
In January, United States military leaders formally lifted the ban on women serving in combat positions,
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the announcement along with saying women have become an "integral part" of the military and have demonstrated their willingness to fight during wars, especially during the last decade. And that includes McGonegal and Koon.
"I have had two combat tours, both in Iraq," said McGonegal, "The first one was in 2003 and the second in 2009."
"I served one tour in Afghanistan in 2004 to 2005," said Koon.
January's announcement means the 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units is no more.
But the military does have until Jan. 2016 to make any exceptions in areas they believe should remain closed to women.
"Opening up those positions, only opens up advancement opportunities for women who are already serving," said Koon, "It's a positive decision for the women in the military."
"We have to be professional and work together," said McGonegal, "At the end of the day it's a matter of who's capable of doing the job."
According to Defense Secretary Panetta, 15 percent of the military is made up of women, many who, like McGonegal and Koon, have already seen combat first hand.
That is why he believes everyone is entitled the opportunity if they want an opportunity at combat.
"I think that we have proven ourselves to show that we are capable of a lot more than they might expect," said McGonegal.
"We're already in that places. We fill those roles," said Koon, "Maybe not officially but we go where we're needed. So obviously somebody out there thinks that we can fill those roles."
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