Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Perspective: Women in Guard ready for combat

Above: A Sargeant in the National Guard at a ceremony where she became the first woman to be awarded the Silver Star since World War II.

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- On the firing range, Lt. Leslie Madron waited to shoot.

Just like her male comrades, Madron is expected to be ready to fight when her South Carolina Army National Guard unit reaches Afghanistan in a few weeks.

To Madron, a medic, it isn't a big deal that she could wind up in combat. "I knew what I was doing when I signed up," she said.

The role that Madron and about 100 women from the South Carolina National Guard will play in Afghanistan would have been unthinkable less than a generation ago. But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq forever have changed what the military and the public think about women in combat.

Female soldiers are no longer stationed safely out of range of combat. Instead, they can be surrounded by the enemy on battlefields that have no safe rear areas.

Read the rest at the Chicago Tribune