Female Kansas University students in a Reserve Officers' Training Corps say the military made the right decision in allowing women to compete with men for some combat positions.
"I though it was great," said Darla Stencavage, an Army ROTC cadet who wants to fly Apache attack helicopters when she leaves KU.
A Defense Department order issued last week allows women to compete for opportunities to fly combat aircraft, including fighter jets, bombers and helicopters.
Defense Secretary Les Aspin issued the order last week.
"It's good because those positions are technical, not physical," said Trina Hale, a senior ROTC cadet from Little Rock, Ark.
"Everybody has to meet the same standards in those positions," she said. "I don't see where being a woman makes any difference."
KU women enrolled in ROTC programs say most of their male peers are supportive of the new order.
"I DON'T THINK they have any problem with women flying in combat, but I think some of them are against women serving in the infantry," said Army ROTC cadet Kari Van Hoof.
However, the women said the lines between "combat" and "noncombat" positions in the military are becoming increasingly blurred. They cited female pilots who were shot down while flying supply aircraft in Operation Desert Storm.
"What about those women who were killed in the barracks (in Saudi Arabia)?" Stencavage said. "You can't tell me that wasn't in a combat situation."
The women said gender makes no difference in combat fliers, even if they are shot down over hostile territory.
"I'm trained on a M-16 rifle just like the males," Van Hoof said. "If I were flying and I got shot down, I don't see my reaction being any different than a man's."
CADETS SAID they were surprised by the timing of the order.
"I did surprise me because I didn't even know they were talking about it," Stencavage said.
For her, the order was particularly well-timed. She is graduating May 16 and plans to enter the Army's flight program.
"I wanted to fly Blackhawks," she said, a helicopter used for intelligence and tactical assessment.
"But now I want to fly the Apache," which is an attack helicopter, she said.