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Scott Brown Backs Combat Roles for Women in U.S. Military

The Massachusetts senator separated himself from the Republican rank and file by asking Secretary Panetta for more military opportunities for women.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, attracted national attention Wednesday after sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta asking him to allow women to serve in combat roles in the U.S. military. 

Brown, a Lieutenant-Colonial and 32-year veteran of the Massachusetts National Guard, said he believes that allowing women to serve will enhance the capabilities of the armed services. 

"We have an obligation to expand the professional opportunities available to women, especially considering their sacrifices," said Brown. "Doing so in my view would improve military effectiveness, not detract from it."

Though women have traditionally not served in these roles, Brown said he was aware that 140 female service members have lost their lives since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in 2001. 

Recent opponents to this idea inside Brown's political party include presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, as quoted in the Huffington Post. 

"I do have concerns about women in front-line combat," he said in an appearance on CNN. "I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved."

The article noted that many Republicans agree with Brown, however, citing a Washington Post poll in which 73 percent of respondents and 58 percent of self-described "strong conservatives" said they were in favor of combat roles for women. 

Brown is running for reelection in November 2012 against the Democratic nominee.

Panetta had not responded to the letter as of this post, but Brown noted in it Panetta's own recent comments.

“We will continue to open as many positions as possible to women so that anyone qualified to serve can have the opportunity to do so," said Panetta, according to the letter. 

Do you agree with Brown on this issue, Wrentham? Should women serve in combat? Why, or why not? Vote in the poll and give us your opinion in the comments.

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