Women in Combat

On January 24th, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey signed a memo that eliminated the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule.

With the elimination of this rule comes the opening of 14,000 positions previously closed to women in the military. In this memo, Panetta and Dempsey wrote,

Women have shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles. The department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure the mission is met with the best qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.

This is a long overdue decision that recognizes the brave and selfless women who have been in combat for several years. According to the Department of Defense, more than 150 women have been killed and over 800 have been wounded in the Iraq and Afghan Wars.

At Casemate, we have had the honor of working with and recognizing some of these courageous women who knew first-hand the life and consequences of war.

To read the memorandum in full, go here.


Captain Kimberly N. Hampton

Kimberly’s Flight: The Story of Captain Kimberly Hampton, America’s First Woman Combat Pilot Killed in Battle

U.S. Army Captain Kimberly N. Hampton was living her dream: flying armed helicopters in combat and commanding D Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry, the armed reconnaissance aviation squadron of the 82nd Airborne Division.  In 1998 she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

On January 2, 2004, Captain Hampton was flying an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter above Fallujah, Iraq, in support of a raid on an illicit weapons marketplace, searching for an illusive sniper on the rooftops of the city. A little past noon her helicopter was wracked by an explosion. A heat-seeking surface-to-air missile had gone into the exhaust and knocked off the helicopter’s tail boom. The helicopter crashed, killing Kimberly.


Jessica Goodell

Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq

Jess enlisted in the Marines immediately after graduating from high school in 2001, and in 2004 she volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps’ first officially declared Mortuary Affairs unit in Iraq. Her platoon was tasked with recovering and processing the remains of fallen soldiers.

Jess describes her job retrieving and examining the remains of fellow soldiers lost in combat in Iraq, and the psychological intricacy of coping with their fates, as well as her own.  Jess also describes the difficulties faced when transitioning from a life characterized by self-sacrifice to a civilian existence marked very often by self-absorption.  Goodell also helps us to better understand how PTSD affects female veterans.

9781612001913AnnaMaria Cardinalli, Ph.D.

Crossing the Wire: One Woman’s Unlikely Journey to the Afghan War, and Her Surprising Revelations about the Dangers We Face

This book is Cardinalli’s journal—in fact “journey”—a personal invitation into the life and rare experience of a woman working on the farthest front of the War on Terror. As a member of one of the Pentagon’s “Human Terrain Teams,” in the Pashtun south of Afghanistan, this read is not only interesting for its findings on Afghan sexuality but for its intimate window into the fascinating and almost surreal difficulty of our military’s job in that country and beyond, and the surprisingly indispensable place of a woman’s hand in the world of war.

*coming April 2013


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