My response has always been: Don't change the physical standards. Just change the discrimination. And now I see that's what is happening in Australia:
In a landmark move for the Australian military, women will be allowed to risk their lives alongside male soldiers and serve on the frontline. In a move described as "a significant and major cultural change" the Australian army will remove all gender barriers over the next five years and women will be able to take up roles that previously were considered too dangerous.
Women who met the same stringent physical and psychological criteria required of men would be able to work in the most dangerous of roles after the Australian cabinet approved the measure, said the defence minister, Stephen Smith.
"This is simply about putting into the frontline those people who are best-placed to do the job, irrespective of your sex," he said. "In the future your role in the Defence Force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex," said Smith.Conservatives have other objections, of course—the co-mingling of female and male soldiers, the ability of Americans to deal with seeing women soldiers come home in body bags. In truth we've been dealing with both situations for years. And yes, there have been some horrific bumps along the way. But there's no reason the country should deprive itself of the service of the people best prepared and most willing to serve it—no matter their gender.