A Challenge for Female Marines

In recent years they have flown military transport planes from continent to continent, launched and landed combat jets on aircraft carriers, steered helicopters through the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush, shepherded supply trucks up and down the highways of Iraq and Afghanistan, and connected with Afghans and Iraqis in ways that male GIs never could. America’s women warriors are an extraordinary lot.

Women make up about 15% of the U.S. military and have suffered more than 100 combat fatalities over the past decade. Yet many military positions are still not open to them—from special-forces commandos to front-line Army and Marine Corps infantry, to Navy billets on certain ships where berthing members of both sexes is logistically challenging. While 99% of active-duty Air Force positions and 88% of Navy billets aren’t restricted according to gender, the share is closer to 67% in the Army and Marine Corps.

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