Fort Campbell Females Ready for New Combat Roles

Lt. Col. Juanita Chang is one of the highest ranking women in the 101st Airborne Division. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Lt. Col. Juanita Chang is one of the highest ranking women in the 101st Airborne Division. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

The Pentagon announcement lifting a blanket ban on women in combat roles will mean changes for Fort Campbell.

Female soldiers with the 101st Airborne have served closer and closer to the frontlines in recent years. Just yesterday the division honored a woman killed in Afghanistan with a memorial service.

Lieutenant Colonel Juanita Chang is one of the highest-ranking females on post. She’s been a military police woman, chemical weapons specialist and a public affairs officer.

“Now I’ve never wanted to go to Ranger School. That is an option that would not have been open to me before. And I don’t know based on this, and it hasn’t been determined yet if things like that will be off limits.”

Even before the ban was lifted, hundreds of women from Fort Campbell deployed to Afghanistan. Dozens who’ve left in recent months are part of special teams sent to go out with infantry units and engage Afghan women.

Many soldiers could see the lifting of the ban coming. Chief Warrant Officer Gary Taylor is a maintenance officer.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Of course, there may be some situations where she may not be able to do her job. But everybody has their limitations.”

Taylor says men can’t always make the cut either, which is why there are tougher qualifications for infantry-type jobs.

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services - even noble organizations - will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.