As feminist movement grew stronger, the voices for equal military opportunities for both sexes grew louder. As a result, in the twentieth century women were allowed enlist in the United States military as soldiers having equal opportunities with men (one more evidence of strong connection between the army and the society)1. Up to date female soldiers set nobody wondering, yet there are several problems in this field - mostly concerning gender relations - to be resolved.
First women enlisted in the military during World War I. Apparently, female soldiers proved their fighting efficiency: in World War II four hundred thousand military women served in the Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Navy, and Air force both in Europe and other states. Since that time female soldiers were took part in each military action conducted by the United States.
In the beginning of 1990's women's roles in the Army once more became a subject for discussion. The intense interest to female soldiers was a result of their high-level performance during "Desert Storm" operation in Kuwait. Women's qualified work was highly commended by the Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney: "They did a bang up job.... They were every bit as professional as their male colleagues"2. The Secretary also forecasted further growth of women's role in combat actions as well as the growth in quantity of female soldiers.
The wThe war at the Persian Gulf is up to date one of the most successful military operations in the history of the United States, and women's role in that success was very substantial. The total number of women deployed for the war exceeded 41 thousand: female soldiers composed 7 percent of the U.S. Armed Forces involved into the conflict in the Persian Gulf: 26,000 Army, 3,700 Navy, 2,200 Marine, and 5,300 Air Force3. They served as aircraft pilots and were involved into carrying troops, food and equipment supplies; they successfully conducted reconnaissance missions; served as nurses on hospital ships and composed mobile medical units; they served on planes and helicopters. Women militaries directed artillery, drove trucks, served at prisoner-of-war facilities and in port security units. They played important role in military police units and served as perimeter guards at the same time accomplishing a lot of other tasks in communication, intelligence service, and administrative work.
At the first glance it seems that all these services listed above do not necessarily presuppose engagement into combat. However, the war at the Persian Gulf was specific due to absence of a line between the actual fighting and non-combat missions. Therefore even units that were not supposed to participate in the combat directly were from time to time engaged into casual fights. As Major General Jeanne M. Holm, USAF (Ret.) remembers, "In the Gulf War there were no fixed positions or clear lines in the sand - Iraqi long-range artillery and especially the surface-to-surface missiles were unisex weapons that did not distinguish between combat and support troops"4. As a result five female soldiers were killed during the war and two were captured by Iraqi troops as prisoners of war.
As a result, the Congress repealed the law prohibiting women from performing combat aircraft assignments. Simultaneously a Presidential Commission was established that investigated issues concerning the assignment of women in the US Armed