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New Study Shows Combat Jobs Not Open to Army Women

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FORT BRAGG — American women soldiers wear the uniform,take the oath, and carry the guns, but some will tell you that theequality stops there. Now, a new study done by RAND's National DefenseResearch Institute backs that theory up.

Only a few women hold combat-related jobs, even though thousands ofsuch jobs are open to them.

For the study, researchers visited 14 units and held focus groups withabout 500 military personnel. What they found is that women still are not being placed in the combat roles which have opened for them over the lastfew years.

Some women in the military will tell you they don't want tofight, while others who are now out of the military say there's a push tokeep women off the front lines. So, while they may look the part, somewomen, such as Sue Ellen Thomas, still feel like the military isn'tletting them play the part.

It's exactly why Thomas got out of the army a year ago.A study by RAND's National Defense Research Institute found that womenhold only 815 of the more than 47,000 combat jobs that opened up overthe last three years.

Some soldiers speculate that's partly because women don't want tofight. Officer Myrna Campbell got out of the army three years ago andsays, had she stayed, she probably would have gone into combat.

Campbell says she feels she was always treated equally, although shedid see other women have trouble moving up the ranks.

Many women say this latest study proves the military has a long way togo before women are truly considered equal. Some say there's a feelingthat the military is still years away from the civilian world in it'sacceptance of women, but that until women start challenging the rulesthings are not likely to change.

Photographer:Mike Joyner

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