Soldiers, veterans welcome changes in role of women

Soldiers and veterans welcome a move by the Pentagon to allow women in dangerous jobs closer to the front lines.

The Defense Department said Thursday the move would open up about 14,000 combat-related positions to female troops on the front lines, including tank mechanics and intelligence officers.

“I think it’s fine,” said Chance Cleland, who serves at Fort Benning. “It’s pretty good.”

All soldiers should be able to serve in the jobs they want, he said. “I know plenty of females who are mechanics and medics,” Cleland said. “We got females that do the same as males.”

Tony Bailey, a retired Army master sergeant with 25 years of service and lost his daughter, Spc. Lakeshia M. Bailey, to a rollover accident in Iraq in 2010, supports the move.

“Women that serve should be able to serve anywhere they want to in the military,” Bailey said Friday from his home in Fort Mitchell, Ala.

A veteran of the Gulf War in 1990-91, Bailey said women served with him in a forward capacity but they weren’t allowed in the combat arms.

He worked as a mechanic on wheeled and tracked vehicles during his entire Army career.

“They had female medics and I had two female mechanics on my team,” Bailey said.“I had female mechanics that went forward with me.”

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