Carter telling military to open all combat jobs to women

Philippine Marines from the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) storm the beach to simulate an "extraction" of a kidnapped victim as they kick off a five-day amphibious military exercise at the Philippine Marines training center in Ternate, Cavite province, about 50 miles (80kms) south of Manila, Philippines Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. The naval exercise dubbed PAGSISIKAP 2015 is aimed at enhancing capability of their fleet and forces as well as to strengthen interoperability of the Marines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH & AP) The recruitment center in Groton is usually pretty busy and News 8 is told there are some women who come in seeking a career in combat.

Recruiters couldn’t offer that path to women before but with Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s order to open all combat jobs to women they soon will be able to.

“If we’re supposed to be equal guess that’s equality,” says Megan Hicks who doesn’t like the idea of men or women in combat.

But she does think women could offer new insight on the front line.

“The things that people see when they’re at combat we might learn a lot more because of the way we perceive what’s going on,” says Hicks.

The women would face the same standards as men. That’s not changing.

“As long as they’re qualified and they can do it let them do it if they want to do it.” says Brad Beckwith who is retired from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Captain Kristen Griest of Orange showed that even in the most strenuous physical challenges women prevail. She is one of two women who recently graduated alongside 94 male Army Rangers.

“Served with women in the military and they can do the job just as good as I can,” says Dan Oakley.

He and John Doherty both served in the Navy alongside women.

We asked Doherty if he would be okay having a woman by his side in combat. “That wouldn’t be a problem,” he told us. “As long as somebody’s there that’s got my back that’s all that matters.”

“Give them the opportunity nothing will stop them,” says Lorraine Nelson of Stonington. “They’re fighter pilots they’re everything.”

Some might argue women have already been in combat situations even though they were excluded from some front-line combat jobs.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for women that want to do that,” says Nelson. “But I just don’t to see the day when women are forced to do it and I don’t want men to be forced either.”

The defense secretary has given the armed services until January first to submit plans to make this historic change.

Carter’s announcement Thursday rebuffs arguments from the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman that the Marine Corps should be allowed to exclude women from certain front-line combat jobs, citing studies showing that mixed-gender units aren’t as capable as all-male units.

A senior defense official says all the services will have to begin putting plans in place by April 1.

The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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