The Participation of American Servicewomen in Operation Desert Storm

Authored by: Emerald M. Archer

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888479
eBook ISBN: 9781135070991
Adobe ISBN: 9781135071028


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Scholars often identify the Persian Gulf War as the first large-scale test of women’s participation in combat. Operation Desert Storm (ODS), specifically, was a turning point for women in the military due to the sheer numbers deployed. In this period (1990–1991), the number of female recruits increased from 2 to 9 percent for a total of 40,793 in the theater of operations. This dramatic change in female representation captured the American media’s interest and, because of extensive media coverage, the American public was witness to the reality of women’s participation in war. ODS brought explicit new questions about women’s compatibility with warfare into the public eye, such that there was increased scrutiny regarding the proper roles of men and women in a gender-integrated military. The social debate continues even today.

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