Before Desert Storm, the military had clearly-defined front lines; from behind those lines, military women and military Reservists served their countries. After the Gulf War, that line blurred, with women and Reservist in new support roles closer to and sometimes over that front line.
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Changing Roles for Military Women and Military Reserve

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Before Desert Storm, the military had clearly-defined front lines; from behind those lines, military women and military Reservists served their countries. After the Gulf War, that line blurred, with women and Reservist in new support roles closer to and sometimes over that front line.

WOMEN AND THE GULF WAR

Numerous Americans were killed in the war known for its strongest battle, Desert Storm, which mainly involved Air Force units, with strong support from the Navy, including strategic aircraft sorties against installations in Baghdad as well as other military targets.

While the war resulted in the liberation of Kuwait, it also changed and redefined the role of women in the military, according to several female Gulf War veterans.

It was an opportunity for women to serve in a combat role alongside their male counterparts, according to the female veterans.

And it was the first multinational conflict where women were put in key support roles, according to M.J. Wardle, who served as 82nd Airborne Division deputy public affairs officer from 1989 to 1992.

Treva Roberts, who served as 1st lieutenant during the war with the 83rd ARCOM Reserve, said the war "did begin the shift for women's participation."

Yes, there were struggles, with many of their male counterparts questioning the military woman's ability to do a front-lines job effectively.

Nonetheless, it did not hinder women's determination to prove they were equal to the military jobs they wanted, even while many came with special challenges.

For example, while in Kuwait, female military personnel were encouraged to wear a burqa when they went downtown.

"It bothered me and made me angry," said one female soldier. "...(as) they were demeaning us as women and as soldiers." And some women soldiers refused.

Some military women noted having to fight to get the job, and fight to be allowed into the field and perform the job alongside and equal to male soldiers. "It was difficult for (men) to accept the fact that (women) can do the job as well as they can."

The Gulf War was a turning point in many military women's careers. Bronze Star "for meritorious service in support of military operations against a hostile force," and other medals of honor were received by many women in combat roles.

TESTING OUR MILITARY RESERVES

Another significant role change occurred in the military around that time: The Gulf War also changed the role of those in the military Reserves.

During the Gulf War units like the 83rd ARCOM Reserve in Ohio helped to mobilize reserve units to the region. Many military women served in that task.

"It was real for the first time," noted one female military personnel Director. "Since the Vietnam War, Reservists had not planned on going anywhere. There was a lot of fearfulness."

"The challenge was to take people that, while they had military training, never thought they would deploy. To this day, our military Reserves are being called upon to serve more and more.

More and more, both military service women and Reservists are seen as proud and ready to serve and participate in the protection of our nation in any and every way needed.



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