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With women serving in ever-increasing roles in combat, Old Dominion University will host a forum featuring several female sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines who served overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom titled "Fighting the War in Iraq: The Experience of Women Soldiers."

The forum will be from 12:30-3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, in room 921 of Old Dominion University's Batten Arts and Letters Building, 43rd Street and Hampton Boulevard.

More than 40,000 servicewomen served in the first Gulf War, with one out of every five women in uniform deployed in direct support of the war. In 1994, an order signed by then-President Bill Clinton officially permitted women on combat ships and fighter planes, but stopped short of sending them into the heaviest fighting. As a result, more women than ever saw combat action in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the attack on the USS Cole, have shown, operations against our forces focus on points of vulnerability and ignore our strengths. These tactics break down the barriers between combat and support missions and erode the idea of variable risks in military operations.

If warfare now exposes women soldiers in support missions to enemy assault as much as (and often even more than) their male counterparts in front-line combat missions, should the combat exclusion for women be maintained? How do our servicewomen feel about the risks they encounter? How do they think the military is responding to the increasingly blurred distinction of high and low risk assignments? What do they think should be done to enable them to do the jobs they were trained for, achieve greater mission equality and reduce their vulnerability?

For more information about the free program, call Regina Karp, director of ODU's Center for Regional and Global Study, at 683-5700.

This article was posted on: October 20, 2003

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.