PITTSBURGH, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The fight over whether American women should serve in battle continues well behind the front lines, those on both sides of the gender issue say.
While the U.S. Defense Department officially prohibits women from serving with the infantry and other front-line battle forces, the nature of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has blurred the line as insurgents attack support units where women are stationed, says Lory Manning of the Women's Research & Education Institute in Arlington, Va.
Female troops also find themselves in forward positions helping question Muslim women hesitant to talk to male soldiers.
"These women aren't asking for special privileges," said Manning, a Navy veteran."We think women and men should be allowed to do any job they are physically qualified to do."
Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness doesn't like the direction things are headed, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday. She faults the Defense Department and Congress for not initiating public debate on the issue of women in combat.
"These women are patriotic. They're courageous. But we should not ask of our women and the military more than is realistic," Donnelly said.
"There are differences between men and women where physical strength is an issue."
About 14 percent of the active duty military -- about 200,000 -- is now female, the Post-Gazette said.
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