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The Combat SoldierInfantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries$
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Anthony King

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658848.001.0001

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The Female Soldier

The Female Soldier

(p.376) 11 The Female Soldier
The Combat Soldier

Anthony King

Oxford University Press

If cohesion in the professional army is no longer based on social likeness and common background as it primarily was in the citizen army, then, in theory, any individual who was competent could serve in the infantry. Indeed, gay men and ethnic minorities, especially black Americans, once excluded from the infantry now serve unproblematically. Professionalism may finally open the possibility that women could also serve as combat soldiers. This chapter explores this issue drawing on recent scholarship and interviews with male and female soldiers. The chapter concludes that while women regularly serve on the front line in western forces and have served successfully in the infantry in Canada, the opportunities for full accession remain limited by physical constraints (about 1 per cent of women are strong enough to serve in the infantry) and, just as importantly, enduring cultural opposition.

Keywords:   contemporary debates about gender policy, female accession, continuing discrimination

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