And I bet there are an awful lot of one armed, and one legged women who are a little put out that NOW they announce "women will be permitted in combat". I know Jessica Lynch must have been real happy to hear it.
Jessica Lynch was a truck driver whose convoy got caught up in an ambush. Proximate to combat has its risks to be sure, but combat, as in the front line, is much more. It's the difference between "in", and "near".
I know that the qualifications didn't used to be as severe. My dad served in the Army in the late 50s-right after the Korean conflict was technically over. He did border patrol and nation building in S. Korea. He loved his service time and truly believed that the S. Korean people were worth the time and money the US spent there. But he couldn't really perform the duties he needed to, so the unit made him their cook. He couldn't climb telephone poles to string wires, which is what a lot of his unit's job was, when they weren't taking out NK snipers who hadn't gotten the message yet that there was a cease fire.
My dad had polio as a kid. He never walked the right way again, although he never realized he had had polio until he had complications as a senior. The Army doctors who did his physical at the time he enlisted should have picked up on it. He's not bitter or anything, because he is very proud of his service and believes that it is why he ended his budding career as a juvenile delinquent and became a "happy, productive member of society" (to quote one of my favorite juvie judges).
No one made a distinction about being in or near, in my experience. Combat goes where it wants to. And as we all know, there is no longer a front line.
I know what they're saying, though. Women are now allowed into the units who get up before daylight, load up into the woppy choppers, and go get 'em.