Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced that he was opening combat jobs to women. From now on women are going to be allowed on the front line in positions that used to be reserved to males.
This decision quickly grew controversial. Nevertheless, many critics forget that women have played a role in the miltary since war exists. Even if they were not directly involved in the combats they were essential to the war effort. They took the place of men in the farms, in the factories. They cured the wounded and prayed for the dying ones.
For ages, women were playing this active role but were not part of the military. The first massive entry of women in the military dates back to Word War II (thousands of women enrolled as nurses in World War I but they were not army’s employees, they had been hired by the state to cure the soldiers often to the rear).
But in World War II women massively enrolled in the miltary to play an active role in the war.
In the American Army most of them served as nurses or in the administration but in other armies such as the British Army women sometimes get closer to the front, especially in the Air Force. In the Soviet Army, women were despised and were often used a sexual victims by officers but also fought on the front line. In the occupied countries, women fought with partisans.
Here is a picture of American nurses in the Pacific Theater of the war: http://www.flickr.com/photos/timefornurses/5129762916/
As a conclusion, the most prominent critics of the enrollment of women in the combat jobs should look at the Israel case where women fight along men since the birth of the state.