Locals have mixed reactions to combat roles for women - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Opening of combat roles to women draws mixed reaction

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There's never a shortage of sandwiches or opinions at Baldino's in Hinesville. The shop sits just a hundred yards or so from Fort Stewart's main gate. Plenty of customers had followed the news the Department of Defense would lift the limits on women's roles in combat units. Some were supportive.

"There's not as much hand to hand combat as there used to be, with technology," explained Christina Hall. "They've made it simpler and its easier for a woman to do as much as a man now. Kind of leveled the playing field. Women can pull a trigger as well as a man."

"I think it's a great idea. Women can do almost everything a man can do. If they want to be in combat, they should be able to go," echoed Shaun Martin.

But others disagreed.

"I don't think it's a good idea simply because of the physical limitations of the female," countered Larry Baker. "At some point, there's no machine gun and you have to physically fight with a man. Can they do that?

The Third Infantry has utilized women in key roles with deployed units for some time. Since the beginning of the War on Terror, women have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and served vital positions dealing with women in Islamic communities. It is an issue that leaves many people torn.

"As a mother, if I had a daughter in the military, I would not want her in combat," confided Holly Stevens. "But as a woman, we have struggled for so long for equality and to be treated the same as men."

Secretary Panetta announced the change Thursday. Some jobs could be opened to women by the end of this year. However, others, such as Special Operations units, could take longer. Leaders of all military branches will have until 2016 to determine which, if any, units should continue to exclude women.

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