The U.S. military took another step forward -- or backward, depending on your point of view -- with President Obama's announcement that combat units would be henceforth open to women.
"As Commander in Chief, I am absolutely confident that -- as with the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' -- the professionalism of our armed forces will ensure a smooth transition and keep our military the very best in the world," Obama said.
To be sure, the lines have blurred between combat, and non-combat jobs, just as gender lines have been blurred in society. More than 150 women have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gone are the days when physical prowess made men exclusevly qualified for combat jobs -- but not all jobs, something that is being taken into account as the transition to the new policy takes place.
But the debate about women in combat is far from settled.
While the majority of jobs can easily be handled by women, there are some to which women are just not physically suited.
Some also worry about the efficiency of integrating a relatively small number of women into combat unites, with the additional logistical, regulatory and disciplinary costs.
Other worries include morale and cohesion, the effect of pregnancies on the deployability of a unit with a high number of women, the increased potential for abuse of women by enemies in some societies, and the tendency of some men to be overly protective of women in their unit, as well as harassment and resentment of women in a traditionally masculine military.
Proponents say it's easy to recruit and deploy women who are in better shape than many men, and today's high-tech battlefield requires more brains and less brawn.
Today's all-volunteer force needs to be able to recruit women to meet the military's needs, and arbitrary exclusion of women from combat can keep commanders from deploying the best person for a given job.
In fact, many women have better interpersonal skills than men, diplomatic skills much in demand in Afghanistan right now.
Perhaps the strongest argument is that combat is a stepping stone for promotion to senior officer positions -- denying combat to a qualified woman prevents her from advancing.
What do you think?