Women in Combat in the United States’ History

A summary of the history of women in combat roles in the United States military

The history of women in combat roles in the United States military takes us back to the periods of the revolutionary war, civil war, WWI, and WWII. During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), women participated in traditional roles such as clerical work, photo analysis, and mechanical work. They also served as nurses, cooks, and seamstresses for troops. Their presence and roles in the United States military made the lives of soldiers tolerable.

These women were subject to the ethics of the Army and went through hardships, just like the soldiers. During this period, some few courageous women, disguised as men, served in combat alongside their husbands. For instance, Margaret Corbin stood alongside her husband during the 1776 Fort Washington attack. During the civil war, most women took part in the war by serving, encouraging, and supporting soldiers.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), most women played active roles in the war. They offered the soldiers with direct services such as nursing and cooking. They also got involved and dominated masculine jobs such as typists, telephone operators, clerical workers, and stenographers, among others. These skills were needed by the country at the fighting front. They joined support-type groups such as the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) and the Christian Commission (CC), among others. Referring to themselves as “daughters of the Regiment,” some women motivated soldiers to fight and even participated in the civil wars.

A good example to confirm this is Annie Etheridge. This woman came from the 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment. She had many qualities of men. For instance, she was brave, kind, patriotic, and muscular (had stamina). The other women who highly contributed to women becoming soldiers include Dr. Mary E. Walker, Cathay Williams, Sally Tompkins, Clara Barton, and Gen. Berry, among others. These women played a significant role in attracting women to participate in combat activities. Women in the United States served as espionage agents during the Civil War.

During the First World War (1917-1918), many men were registered in the armed forces, leaving vacant positions in manufacturing companies. Women replaced them by filling their positions and playing their roles. In addition, the National Service School (NSS) was introduced in 1916 to help women gain skills to perform duties during times of wars. The US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps collaborated to train women skills such as food preservation and land telegraphy.

During the First World War, approximately 35,000 American women served the armed forces in many ways. After the end of WWI, the women serving as telephone operators had to go home. They were granted official discharges by the Army. However, later in 1979, a Congressional debate considered them by recognizing their services during the war. They were granted military status.

During the Second World War (1945-1950), the enlistment in the Women’s Army Corps was revived. The training centers and support groups were also revived during this period. During this period, many opportunities for women interested in the US Army were granted an opportunity to join the armed forces. This came after the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower directed the formulation of legislation that would make the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) part of the US Army.

Several people were selected to collaborate and make the fight for the proposed legislation to be successful. The Marine Women and the women in the Air Force were also included in the new bill, under a new name (Women’s Armed Services Integration Act). This bill was signed into law by the president on June 12, 1948. This opened many opportunities for women to serve in the army. For instance, the enlisted women entered the regular Army; women received individual duties instead of being sent to TO units. They were also sworn in and appointed as leaders in the WAC and training centers, among others.

During the Korean War (1950-1953), more than 20% of WACs served in foreign countries. They performed roles such as communicators, record keepers, and administrators. Others worked as cryptographers, communication specialists, and hospital technicians. The Post-Korean War (1953-1965), Vietnam (1965-1072), post-Vietnam, and the expansion of women enlistments show how women gradually came into combat in the United States.

The wars that the United States has encountered since the revolutionary war instrumented the need for troops making the United States ease its restrictions on women in combat. However, in 1988, the “risk rule” restriction barred women from non-combat roles to save them against risks of capture, fire, and direct combat. Congress repealed this prohibition two years later and allowed women to participate in the Army (Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force). A proposal by the presidential commission on women in the military, which barred women from ground combat, was turned down after more than 55% of the public voted that women should participate in combat roles.

Today, though women are prohibited from serving in combat duties, they participate in risky roles and have proven their capabilities, just like the men in combat. For instance, today, many women have shown capabilities that are equal to or more than that of the men in combat. This is confirmed by the three female Marines who marched into history, they achieved this by completing infantry training. These women include Pfc. Julia Carroll, Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro and Pfc. Katie Gorz. Currently, the United States has realized the need for women to be in combat.

The nation is doing all it can to ensure that jobs in the armed forces are wide open for women. The idea is also being politicized, whereby many leaders claim that women should fight for rights to fight. In addition, the nation is currently employing strategies or tactics to ensure that all gender-based barriers are eliminated. This will ensure that women are integrated into combat because they have proved to be capable service members in the field. In other words, appropriate measures have been taken in the United States to ensure that women are fully integrated into combat.

Why a JTF (unit) commander would be interested in the issue

A JTF commander will be interested in the issue of integrating women in combat. This is because women have proved to play a significant role in encouraging, serving, and supporting soldiers at war historically. For instance, he can count on them in performing many tasks in detainee camps.

Specific examples of how the information is being communicated, noting any differences in communication techniques (mass communication- Agenda setting)

A long time ago, people depended on land telephones in their communication. The world today has new communication media, which are more advanced and efficient. For instance, in the current world, people get and share news through social media interfaces, mobile phones, and printed media, among others. The story above can be shared through these media.

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"Women in Combat in the United States' History." Premium Papers, 13 Jan. 2023, premium-papers.com/women-in-combat-in-the-united-states-history/.


Premium Papers. (2023) 'Women in Combat in the United States' History'. 13 January.


Premium Papers. 2023. "Women in Combat in the United States' History." January 13, 2023. https://premium-papers.com/women-in-combat-in-the-united-states-history/.

1. Premium Papers. "Women in Combat in the United States' History." January 13, 2023. https://premium-papers.com/women-in-combat-in-the-united-states-history/.


Premium Papers. "Women in Combat in the United States' History." January 13, 2023. https://premium-papers.com/women-in-combat-in-the-united-states-history/.