Browne said a problem could occur with men who feel they have to protect women during a firefight or other dangerous situations, and that men in the same unit may compete for the attention of a female, whether or not she's interested. Browne said the Israeli Defense Forces used women in combat roles in the early days of their nation, but since then have reduced their role because men wanted to protect them.
In recent years, however, Canada and Australia have opened all close arms combat jobs to women – although their numbers are few.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Marines Corps have deployed women in special Female Engagement Teams from 2009 to late 2012 to search local women for weapons, interview them and perform other tasks men are prohibited from performing in Islamic culture. These FETs have come under and returned fire, notes Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center in Washington.
"Can women kill? Women have been in combat for a long time, sometimes unofficially," Campbell said. "Women are flying combat aircraft and ships where they have to kill, serving as gunners in tanks since the early 1990s. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that women are less likely to pull the trigger than men."
Campbell said the decision to lift the combat ban for women was done after consulting generals on the policy.
"Mostly from what I hear from military men is if (women) can do it, fine, but you shouldn't lower the standards."