Women in Combat: The Way Forward

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute North America (SIPRI North America), Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), University of Virginia School of Law, and Women in International Security (WIIS) are hosting a symposium which will examine the wisdom and impact of combat exclusion policies – past and present.

SIPRI North America

1111 19th St NW, 12th Fl, Washington DC 20036

Friday, February 1 2013

9:00 am-3:00 pm 

 RSVP: http://bit.ly/V4VcWo

 Watch the video footage: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/event/214001

*Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

    In 2012, the debate over the proper role for women in the military took center stage when two groups of female service members filed lawsuits challenging the US policies excluding women from ground combat roles. The nature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has eroded the distinction between frontline and support roles. In recent years, the US government has recognized the increased role of and need for women in the military.  This past week, the Department of Defense made the dramatic announcement that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is rescinding the ground combat exclusion policy “effective immediately.”  

    This symposium was organized prior to Secretary Panetta’s historic decision, and it will move forward with a new agenda that focuses on the process for opening jobs, units and assignments that were previously closed to women.  Rather than explore the effects of the ground combat policy, we will examine topics related to the steps that must be taken to implement the new order.  The discussions will explore the best practices for achieving full integration, for establishing a framework that will assure that women succeed as they move into specialties formerly reserved for men, and for supporting the women and men who are part of this first wave.  We hope to capture lessons learned from our non-US partners who have integrated their military forces, as well as from women who were among the first wave of earlier integration efforts in the US military.  The symposium will place these issues in the broader context of gender equality in civil society, which is embodied in the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. The symposium will bring together a diverse group of participants, including military personnel, academics, lawyers, and representatives of civil society organizations.

  • Testimonials: This panel is composed of women whose actions in combat are documented with awards and decorations.
  • Previous Integration at Home and Abroad: This discussion will be led by women who have .served in the immediate wake of previous policy change, or who serve today in combat positions abroad.
  • Concerns about Lifting Combat Restrictions: This panel is composed of experts who have studied combat restrictions and have important insights to consider relative to integrating women into combat specialties. 
  • Implications of Full Integration on Women, Peace and Security: Participants will explore the manner in which full integration may affect women’s participation in peace and security initiatives around the globe.  



  • 09:00am-09:15am Welcome Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Executive Director, SIPRI North America
  • 09:15am-10:00am Testimonials Moderator: Ms. Kayla Williams, Author, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army. Panelists: Specialist Shoshanna Johnson, (Ret)-Purple Heart, POW Medal, Iraq 2003; Major Mary Hegar-Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Afghanistan 2009, Sergeant Julia Bringloe-Distinguished Flying Cross, Afghanistan 2011; Specialist Heidi Olson - Purple Heart, Afghanistan 2012.
  • 10:00am-10:50am Previous Integration at Home and Abroad: Moderator: Ms. Joy Bronson Smith. Panelists: Captain Joellen Oslund (Ret) Successfully Challenged Shipboard Assignment Restrictions; Captain Rosemary Mariner (Ret) Successfully Challenged Combat Aviation Restrictions; Colonel Martha McSally (Ret)-A10 Pilot 1st Female Fighter Squadron Commander; Captain Lory Manning (Ret) - Director Women in the Military Project, WREI; Ms.Karen Davis- Women in the Canadian Armed Forces: “Facing the Warrior Framework”, Colonel Ingrid Gjerde- Norwegian Infantry Officer.
  • 11:00am-12:00pm Concerns about Lifting Combat Restrictions: Moderator: Colonel Ellen Haring. Panelists: Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute, Military Readiness Training and Doctrine Command ongoing studies; Colonel Michele Putko (Ret)-Army War College Study “Women in Combat Compendium"; Dr. Laura Miller, RAND, “Extent of Restrictions on the Service of Active-Component Military Women" ; Greg Jacob, Policy Director, Service Women's Action Network.
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm Implications of Full Integration on Women, Peace and Security: Moderator: Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, Director, United States Institute of Peace - Gender and Peacebuilding Center. Panelists: Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, U.S. Congress, Legislative Update; Professor Anne Coughlin, Professor of Law, Molly Pitcher Project, University of Virginia; Ms. Ariela Migdal, Senior Staff Attorney, Women's Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union; Dr. Robert Egnell, Visiting Professor and Director of Teaching, Georgetown University, Global Implications UNSCR 1325.
  • If you have any questions or media inquiries, please contact Masha Keller at sipri-na@sipri.org.  This event will be videotaped. Media interviews will be conducted from 2:00pm-3:00pm.