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Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis suggested Tuesday that the nation should think again about putting young men and women together in ground combat units at a time when they tend to "grow very fond of one another."
Regarding women serving on the battlefield, "I'm not against the issue intrinsically," he said, but added that more leadership guidance is necessary to implement such a major cultural and societal change.
The Marine Corps' first female F-35 pilot will soon join her squadron in Japan, Corps officials have announced.
Capt. Anneliese Satz, 29 completed her F-35B training in June, according to a Marine Corps press release, which came out the day after a news story about a female Marine who will soon begin training to fly the F-35C.
The U.S. Air Force is hopeful it could have its first female battlefield airman this spring.
In written testimony before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said one woman is making her way through the grueling challenges of Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) training.
A federal judge has ruled that a men-only draft is unconstitutional, but he stopped short of ordering the Selective Service System to register women for military service.
The Houston judge sided with a San Diego men's advocacy group that challenged the government's practice of having only men sign up for the draft, citing sex discrimination in violation of the Fifth Amendment's equal protection clause.
"This case balances on the tension between the constitutionally enshrined power of Congress to raise armies and the constitutional mandate that no person be denied the equal protection of the law," wrote U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District of Texas.
The lawsuit was filed in 2013 against the Selective Service System by Texas resident James Lesmeister, who later added San Diego resident Anthony Davis and the San Diego-based National Coalition for Men as additional plaintiffs.
The two men had standing to sue the government because they were within the age range of 18 to 26 in which men in the United States are required to register with Selective Service.
A congressionally mandated commission is weighing whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service System, or whether the U.S. needs a draft registration system at all.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.