In the days following September 11, 2001, women and men took to the seas, to the skies and to the sands in defense of our country. It’s worth noting that women served in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq because they were needed. They shared a common commitment to their nation with their male counterparts in squadrons, ships, and squads.
Today, and every other day, women and men, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers faithfully serve our nation at home and abroad. We celebrate their contributions. They make the United States military the dominant military force on the planet.
Victor Hugo once wrote, “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world and that is an idea whose time has come.” One year ago this month, we repealed the combat exclusion on women in the military. We formally recognized reality — that women serve courageously in combat zones whenever or wherever their nation calls. By this act, we codified our commitment to offer everyone in uniform equal professional opportunities to serve the nation.
We continue to work to make this a reality throughout the force. We’re reviewing standards, not to artificially lower them but to ensure we have them right. We’re educating leaders. As our sacred responsibility, we are committed to improving the readiness of the force while also increasing opportunities for our women in uniform. These two goals are complementary, not contradictory.
When in contact with the enemy, the individual soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine doesn’t consider whether their comrade in arms is a man or woman. They care about whether they can do their job. There is a simple explanation for this: trust transcends gender.
The service of our women and men in uniform is worthy of recognition today and every day.
Gen. Martin Dempsey is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff