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MATTHEWS: With me tonight are U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of
Illinois, who lost both her legs actually when her Black Hawk helicopter
went down in Iraq in 2004. She`s also a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois
Army National Guard. And Captain Zoe Bedell served two deployments in
Afghanistan and is now in the Marine Corps Reserves. She`s one of four
women who filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ban on women in combat.
Welcome to both of you.
You both have an advantage on me. You served in the military. I did not.
I will bow to your knowledge.
Congresswoman, I want you to tell me -- if you can, delineate before today,
what were the restrictions or limits on what a woman could do, as opposed
to a male serving officer or enlisted person, in the United States
REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: So, Chris, women were not allowed to
serve in specific jobs. In the Army, those combat jobs were infantry,
There`s a whole list of them. So, for example, a woman could not become a
field artillery officer. The only combat arms branch in the Army that was
open to women was aviation, which is what I became. It didn`t mean that
women weren`t serving in combat. And, in fact, the Army recognized that
and awards the Combat Action Badge to show that you were engaged in direct
So there`s two different policies. There`s a little bit of a split between
the old system that says that women can`t serve in these jobs, but then
also recognizing, oh, yes, but you are engaging in combat action.
MATTHEWS: But they weren`t allowed in the military artillery or armor?
DUCKWORTH: Right. So, infantry, artillery, armor, there`s a whole lost of
particular jobs that you couldn`t get into.
MATTHEWS: Captain, thank you for joining us and thank you for your
service, as well as thank you to the congresswoman.
Tell us why you made your suit, what you think was unjust. What do you
think has now been changed?
CAPT. ZOE BEDELL U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVES: Well, I served for four years
in the Marine Corps. I did two tours in Afghanistan, and I was in charge
of a group of female Marines who were overseas patrolling with infantry
Marines every day and who saw combat, who were in firefights, who are
targeted by roadside bombs.
And I knew that what was happening over there was not in line with what the
policy was saying and that policy gotten our way frankly made it more
difficult for to us accomplish our mission. It also made it harder for my
Marines to get recognition for the work they were doing.
And when the ACLU approached me, it was an easy decision to make.
MATTHEWS: So, in effect, were women actually working in these units that
were apparently banned like artillery, armor, and infantry, or were they
not? Or were they limited to the aerial -- the choppers and the other
What was in effect -- let me go back to the congresswoman -- what in effect
was the reality of a guy or a woman serving in the military that they would
have experienced up until today, the reality?
DUCKWORTH: Sure. The reality is, Chris, for example, we had infantry
units that would have a female medic or supply sergeant attached to them,
but not assigned. So, if you are assigned to a unit, then you belong to
that unit and you`re part of the unit. But they would attack a medic or
supply sergeant and they would go with the infantry men on their door to
door house to house searches, but they needed the women there to search
female civilians that they would come across.
So, the women were engaging in the same firefights, doing the exact same
thing, but they were not seen as being combat troops. And so, women are
already doing these jobs but they were not being recognized as doing it and
these units couldn`t have the women there and would have to go and look and
search for women to volunteer to be attached to them and could not train
them alongside the men in infantry training because the women were not
technically infantry soldiers.
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