Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell said she left active duty last year because military policy limited her potential for promotion by failing to officially recognize her combat leadership experience. (Ben Margot / Associated Press / November 27, 2012)
Capt. Zoe Bedell graduated at the top of her Marine Corps officer candidates class. In deployments to Afghanistan, she oversaw “female engagement teams” that accompanied male infantry units into the field — living and working in identical conditions.
Yet since 1994, the Defense Department has formally excluded women from most direct ground combat positions, creating a growing disconnect with the realities of warfare.
Bedell said she left active duty last year because the policy limited her potential for promotion by failing to officially recognize her combat leadership experience. (In military parlance, the female teams that played a critical role in communicating with Afghan women were “attached,” not “assigned,” to infantry units.)
On Tuesday, she joined a federal lawsuit challenging the blanket exclusion.
“The modern battlefield means there are no front lines or safe areas,” Bedell, 27 and now a Marine Corps reservist, said during a news conference at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. The ACLU is representing her, three female members of the Marines, the California Air National Guard and the Army Reserve, and the nonprofit Service Women’s Action Network.