By the time the Persian Gulf War -- also known as Operation Desert Storm --commenced in 1990, women had been serving in the U.S. military for 89 years. Women first officially served in the U.S. Army's Nurse Corps in 1900 and in the U.S. Navy's Nurse Corps in 1908. Over 40,000 women were deployed in the U.S. forces during the Persian Gulf War, representing 6.8 percent of the total U.S. force.
Women's Roles in the Persian Gulf
U.S. law forbade women from serving in combat roles when the Persian Gulf War broke out in 1990. However, this did not stop women from seeing combat. It merely kept them out of military positions specifically designed for combat. Women drove trucks, worked as mechanics, flew troop transport helicopters, fired Patriot missiles and performed the vast majority of military functions that were not officially deemed as combat roles. Of the women who served in the U.S. forces during the Gulf War, 15 were killed and two were captured by Iraqi forces.
Aftermath of the Gulf War
Soon after the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. Congress began to rethink the issue of women in combat and have since repealed laws that forbid women from holding positions within the combat arms of the military. Congress' decisions were influenced by a 1993 Government Accountability Office report that showed favorable reviews of military women's performance during the Persian Gulf War.
- Center for History and New Media: Persian Gulf War
- New York Times: Women's Role in Combat: The War Resumes
- Government Accountability Office: Women in the Military: Deployment in the Persian Gulf War
- Navy.mil: Women in U.S. Military during Desert Shield/Desert Storm
- ABC News: The Cost of Women in Combat
- Boeing: CH-47D/F Chinook
- Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc.: Resources–Historical Frequently Asked Questions
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