Hundreds of thousands of patriotic women have served well and honorably in the U.S. armed forces.
Today, women are so vital to the effectiveness of our military that it is difficult even to imagine how the armed forces would get along without them.
Nevertheless, we oppose putting women directly in combat or -- as is now proposed -- in situations where they are at least more likely to face enemy attack.
It is said -- quite accurately -- that the front lines have often been hard to determine in our country's military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that women are therefore often subject to enemy attack anyway.
But that is still different from what the Pentagon proposes, which is purposely placing women closer to combat than ever before.
As one example, women could now be mechanics for tanks and armored troop carriers, or rocket launcher crew members.
Even that doesn't satisfy some critics, who want direct combat roles opened to women to enhance their chances of moving up in the ranks.
But it is not merely old-fashioned to reject such an idea. There are, on average, differences in strength between men and women, and women captured in war may be subject to even more vicious treatment than men.
It is wise to avoid that so far as is reasonably possible.