Be All You Can Be
In the 1980's and 1990's, the United States Army has been called upon to respond to regional conflicts, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises around the globe. As the Army has evolved to respond to modern contingency force operations, the roles of Army Women have also been tested and re-defined.
The gender-integrated Army was tested during operations Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983 and Just Cause in Panama in 1989. During these missions there was confusion over whether women would deploy with their units or not. Nonetheless, over 100 served in Grenada and more than 600 served in Panama.
In 1990, Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield was the largest call up of Army women since World War II with 24,000 females serving alongside men, enabling the Army to accomplish its mission. Following the war there were numerous contingency operations, however, it would be the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 that further expanded the role of women in the Army.
Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Approximately 24,000 Army women served in the Gulf, along with 4000 women in other service branches. Not since World War II, had women served on such a large scale in such a wide variety of jobs. Nor had they played such an integral part.
Army women participated in the initial invasion into Kuwait and Iraq. They were assigned to forward support units and performed a wide variety of roles, including flying helicopters to transport personnel, equipment, and supplies; air defense artillery; military police; intelligence; transportation; ordnance; chemical and biological warfare; special operations; communication; medical search and rescue; and with medical facilities forward in the battle area.
About 270 women served with U.S. Patriot missile battalions in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey. Two women commanded battalions – a Military Police battalion and a Material Maintenance battalion –during Operation Desert Storm. Women were also in command of companies, aircraft squadrons, and platoons and squads in a variety of units.
In the 1990s tens of thousands of Army women participated in multiple contingency operations around the world, in places such as Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti.
President George Bush ordered American troops to Somalia as part of a United Nations coalition to assist in humanitarian aid to the Somali people. Widespread hunger and anarchy made conditions ripe for food riots. Female as well as male Soldiers had to be trained to cope with food riots, terrorists, and ethnic and clan conflicts.
After prolonged conflict following the end of the Cold War and the breakup of Yugoslavia, a peace agreement was orchestrated between the warring parties (Muslims and Serbs) on 21 November 1995. U.S. Forces served as United Nations peacekeepers once the agreement was signed. Disease and injury were major hazards in Bosnia, as well as land mines – especially in the zone of separation, a four- kilometer-wide no man’s land between the front lines of the Bosnian Serb Army and those of Bosnia Croat and Bosnian government forces.