Women at Arms

Women at Arms

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have profoundly redefined the role of female soldiers and changed base camp dynamics -- outpacing official military policy. (NYT)

The gender gap is narrowing at military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These first two installments in a New York Times video series address gender-related cohabitation and combat issues including hygiene, birth control, pregnancy and personal safety. Female soldiers speak candidly about the changing dynamics at base camp.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first in which tens of thousands of American military women have lived, worked and fought with men for prolonged periods. Wars without front lines, they have done more than just muddle the rules meant to keep women out of direct enemy contact.

They have changed the way the U.S. military goes to war. They have reshaped life on bases across Iraq and Afghanistan. They have cultivated a new generation of women with a warrior’s ethos — and combat experience — that for millennia was almost exclusively the preserve of men.

And they have done so without the disruption of discipline and unit cohesion that some feared would unfold. The issues that arise in having women in combat — harassment, bias, hardship, even sexual relations — are, female combatants argue, a matter of discipline, maturity and professionalism rather than an argument for separating the sexes.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Producer: Kassie Bracken
Videographer: Bill Thomas
Reporters: Steven Lee Myers, Lizette Alvarez
Photographers: Moises Saman, Jim Wilson