ARKLATEX (KSLA) - Since the 1700s, women have played a more domestic role in the military as nurses and cooks. But as time has progressed, their roles have changed. That change started with Loretta Walsh in 1917, when she became the first woman to enlist in the Navy. Fast forward several decades to current times, there is a call from Defense Secretary Ash Carter for the military to let women assume any and all combat roles they choose, removing the final barrier for women.
This move likely will mean more women will rise up to the challenge of the Army and Marine Corps infantry posts, but Lt. Col. Sarah Hall says the move to integrate more women in the Air Force was already in the works and has been for some time. Congress authorized women to fly into combat missions in 1991. Hall joined the B-52s 7 years later and has flown into combat 3 times since then.
"We have a fair number of women now on the air craft. I am an instructive radar navigator," says Hall. "We do the same qualifications, we have the exact same courses, the exact same training. Everything is absolutely identical as far as that goes and that has been true since women came to the B-52's."
Hall says while the role to open up all military roles to women is a great sign of progression, she doesn't think there will be a significant change at Barksdale Air Force Base because they are far ahead of the curve. When it comes to training, Lt. Colonel Hall says it's qualification, not gender that takes priority.
"We are not looking at whether the pilots a guy or the pilots a girl or anything along those lines. The training from day one says you're expected to meet the same standards," says Hall. "The young women that I've seen coming in today are very oriented towards doing exactly the job they are qualified for."
Lt. Colonel Hall says whether the mission is carried out by a man or woman, the goal is all the same which is to execute to the best of your ability.