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Pentagon Lifts Restrictions on Women in Combat

Aired January 25, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET



LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We`re eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion role for women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s just open it up, make it based on performance. If the women can`t meet the standards, then they don`t get to graduate from the program to do the mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have women serving in infantry, though, could impair the mission essential task of those units, and that`s been proven in study after study.

KAYLA WILLIAMS, FORMER ARMY SERGEANT: When I first got back from Iraq, I had people ask me if I was allowed to carry a gun, because I`m just a girl.

PANETTA: We`re moving forward with a plan to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s (inaudible), you know, upper body strength and physical movements and speed and endurance and so forth.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Here`s the short version: the U.S. military is changing its policy to let women serve in combat units. And this is not going to happen immediately, those jobs will open up over time, and some military units can`t request an exemption, although officials say they`ll have to explain why. You might think -- wait a minute, don`t women already serve on the front lines? The answer to that is yes, in Iraq and Afghanistan, female soldiers ended up in fire fights. They were serving in frontline units, but they weren`t officially serving in combat units, that`s what we are talking about here. Still, that fact hasn`t stopped some women in the past from fighting. Back in the American Revolution and Civil War, some women disguised themselves as men so they could fight on the battlefield. Now, obviously, opinions on this are split. And one of the big things that critics are pointing at is the ability for women and men to meet the same physical training standards.


DAVID FRUM: We`re going to see, as we`ve already seen with the expansion of the roles of women, steady downward pressure on military qualifications, reductions, then strength, then endurance requirements in order to get numbers up.

WILIIAMS: While it is certainly true that not all women can do all of -- the requirements, neither can all men. The important thing here, is to make sure that the right people are in the right jobs and that anybody who has the qualifications can serve in whatever position they are best suited for.


AZUZ: When you look through some of the comments on you can see just how divided people are on this. For example, one commentator said "warfare is not a gender-neutral playing field, this is going to get a lot of people killed." Someone on the other side said, this is good, everyone should be able to fight for their country no matter the gender.

If you live in the Midwestern or Northeastern U.S., we don`t have to tell you how cold it is. For the rest of you -- yes, it is freezing. On top of New Hampshire`s Mount Washington, the temperature -- 22 below zero, the wind chill -- minus 85. The winter weather is causing some crazy events out there. Chicago firefighters were hosing down a burning warehouse. Now, if you look at these pictures, you`re going to see what looks like an ice palace. The water from the hoses ended up encasing the place in inches of ice. Check out this I-Report from Minnesota. You`ve heard about frying an egg on the sidewalk to prove how hard it is, this pretty much the exact opposite.


JEREMIAH JACOBSEN: Just to prove how cold it is outside, even here in the backyard, we`re a little shielded from some of the elements, but we did a couple of things: we brought a damp tea shirt outside, and it took less than five minutes for it to become this rigid. That`s one example just quickly things can freeze out here. We also put -- dropped the (inaudible) in a little cup of water -- it won`t come out now. It is frozen in there, solid, less than 90 minutes that one took. We set that in 90 minutes ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me.

I`m a country that`s part of Asia, my government is a communist dictatorship, I`m located on a peninsula and I fought a war against my southern neighbor in the 1950s.

I`m North Korea. And I`ve gotten a lot of attention for my controversial nuclear program.


AZUZ: Part of the reason why it`s controversial, is because the rest of the world doesn`t know what North Korea plans to do with it. The country`s government is very secretive and very controlling. This video was taken inside North Korea, when CNN Wolf Blitzer went there in 2010. He said North Korean officials we with him all the time. They controlled where he went, whom he could talk to and what he was allowed to record. So, why are we talking about North Korea`s nuclear program? The country says it`s planning to carry out and new nuclear tests in more long range rocket launches? And North Korean officials say they are doing this to try to provoke the United States. North Korea has tried rocket launches before and failed. Last month, this one was successful, it shows the country`s missile program is moving forward.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out to Mrs. Gonzales` CWP classes at Hudson Bay High School in Vancouver, Washington. LSAT, ASVAB and GRE are all examples of what? You know what to do, are they graduate degrees, government agencies, standardized tests or boy bands. You`ve got three seconds, Go!

They are all standardized tests. Like the SAT. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: And that is one thing I do not miss about school: the tests. We will be thinking about you high school students this Saturday, January 26, because we know a lot of you are gearing up for a big one- the SAT. Regardless of whether you`re stressing out over that or if you are concerned about any standardized testing, any grade. Check this out. CNN STUDENT NEWS has you covered with some tips.


AZUZ: There`s not much that`s fun about taking a test. But there are some things that can make the process less painful. So to start, make sure you sleep. Not during the test. Most experts recommend getting eight hours the night before the test, but if you`re cramming and that`s not possible, get at least a few hours, so you`re awake enough to focus on the questions and not on how tired you are. Also, you should set an alarm, and a back up alarm, and check that both have the right a.m., p.m. setting. Don`t ask me how I know.

Next, eat. Not during the test. Grab a meal or a healthy snack before test time. It will give you energy and help you focus on the questions and not on how hungry you are. The trick here is, you want something light and energizing like cereal or fruit, but not something heavy like pizza. That can make you sleepy. Third, breeze. Being nervous is natural and can actually help you focus, but don`t get so wound up that you`re turning blue and sweating all over the scantron. Take some deep breath, shut your eyes for a moment, if you have to. Try to stay positive and focus on each question. So, keep calm and follow directions. That`s tip four. It`s a good idea to glance over the entire test first thing, so you know what`s coming. And carefully read up on what`s being asked of you. That will prevent a lot of stupid mistakes. And finally, keep the pace. If your test is ten questions, don`t spend half of your time on the first one. Stumped, answer what you know and come back later. Finish early? Take the extra time to go over your answers and make sure they`re in the right places. Being first to turn it in won`t help your grade, but Acing it can help you make the grade.


AZUZ: All right. Another topic you`re talking about: does playing violent video games contribute to violent behavior? The results of our quick poll on our blog. 39 percent of you say "yes,", 51 percent say "No", ten percent "aren`t sure."

Adeena writes that violent games do contribute to violent behavior, but past incidents and family issues also play a large role in this subject.

Hong argues that violent movies and games contribute to behavior, but because of the huge economic benefits they bring, we seem to deliberately ignore their dangers.

Mike says, he`s played violent games and watched violent movies for years, not once has he wanted to go hurt people.

Morgan writes that many kids may idolize the people in these games, which causes violent behavior in children and young adults.

Zim disagrees, asking "If I play an NFL game, does that mean I will become a professional football player?"

And from Robert, "... kids are playing violent games because their moms and dads aren`t paying attention to what they`re playing. I feel that parents are responsible for their kids ..."

Excellent comments at on that.

Finally today, we`re bringing you a story that hungry music fans can really sink their teeth into: what you`re looking at is not a stature, it`s a cake. The confectionary creation is a Lady Gaga look alike: A life- size cake for a performer who - something is larger than life. Now, Gaga`s had some interesting looks in the past: she`s emerged from an egg, outfitted her face in pearls, she wore a dress made out of meat, but if these baker`s brainstorm inspires a new image, her fans might just go gaga. For him I`m sure that`d be the icing on the cake. Although no matter how you slice it -- he`d be getting his just desserts. If you saw any of that coming, I just guess you could read my poker face, but that`s going to eat up all the time we have for (inaudible). Have a good weekend. We look forward to seeing you on Monday.