Equal right in the military, and elsewhere
About 20,000 of the 205,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan are women, but hardly any of them have the same opportunities as their male colleagues for higher pay and promotion.
Military rules established in 1994 preclude the direct assignment of women to ground combat units - service in which often is a precursor to advancement.
The rule, however, does not protect female soldiers from danger. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 at least 144 women soldiers have been killed and at least 860 have been wounded there and in Afghanistan, according to the military.
Last week four women soldiers, two of whom had been awarded Purple Heart medals, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the "combat exclusionary policy," claiming that it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
As a practical matter, the rule can't even be enforced because the reality of modern warfare - as amply demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan - is that there rarely is a conventional "front line." That's why so many women have been wounded and killed. The rule doesn't protect them; it prevents them from benefitting from their combat experience.
Any soldier qualifying for a combat unit must meet rigorous training and physical requirements. That should be the standard, rather than arbitrary rule that has been overtaken by reality on the ground.