Fort Knox soldiers break glass ceiling - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fort Knox soldiers break glass ceiling

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Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) – Two weeks ago the Pentagon lifted the ban on women serving in combat but at Fort Knox, the glass ceiling already started to crack months ago.

"I was the first female that had ever been in that battalion ever," says Staff Sgt. Marissa Cuff.

She's an intelligence analyst for the Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 11st Infantry Division. Last year the Duke Brigade, as the soldiers call it, was selected to participate in the Army's test program to integrate female soldiers in infantry battalions.  It's something that had never been done before.

"There haven't been any issues. A male operations officer is going to expect the same level of performance from the female intelligence officer or signal officer as he would from a male and they haven't disappointed," says Col. Bill Ostlund, Duke Brigade Commander.

Women were allowed to take on support positions and are assigned to units, which, until a few months ago were only open to men.

"It opens that door for a whole lot of women to move up in their career faster," Sgt. Allison Blackburn.

If that was opening the door, the Pentagon's decision seems to have knocked the door down.

The move opens up some 237,000 true combat positions to woman who have played a vital role for the past 11 years in Iraq in Afghanistan.  It's estimated nearly 300,000 women have been deployed since 2001.

"I think they kind of just made it official to what was already happening in my opinion they saw that women were out there doing the same job as men," says Sgt. Blackburn.

They look forward to the day when a woman will join the ranks of the military's elite.

"I definitely believe a woman can be a Navy Seal or Army Ranger as long as she's trained properly," says Staff Sgt. Cuff.

As far as physical limitations, the woman we spoke with say, they don't exist because of their training.

"The standard doesn't differ for males and females we all have a certain time limit and a certain weight we have to carry and meet that standard but if we can meet at that time then in combat it should be no different," says Staff Sgt. Brooke Howard.

"Everyone is trained to be a war fighter," says Cuff.

Above all, these women say what drives a woman to fight in combat is the same thing that drives a man.

"The enemy doesn't care if you're a male or a female," says SFC Yolanda Allen.

"I joined the Army because I wanted to serve my country," says Sgt. Kim Battig.

"I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself and I couldn't think of a better organization than the United States Army it's one of the best in the world," says Cpt. Brittany Coughran.

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