Although their numbers still remain small by comparison with those of males, women increasingly are playing an important role in the air war of Iraq. DefenseDepartment restrictions prohibit all services from placing women in direct ground combat. But Air Force women have been clelared to fight from the air in fighter jets, bombers and gun-ships since the mid 1990s. Female pilots have also paid with their lives and the two gulf wars have resulted in the death of about 104 female service members. Master Sgt. Kimberly Sullpeck, has flown an estimated 450 hours on AC-130H gunships in Afghanistan which has placed her directly in the path of gunfire. Women are3 proving they can handle difficult combat missions.
Obviously, the presence of females fighting in wars upsets even some of America’s closest allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia. In the Gulf War, the presence of American females in army uniforms was a factor in Saudi women demanding rights such as the right to drive a car. The increase in the number of women fighting in the Middle East is bound to impact militants who regard their presence as a threat to the male dominated world they desire to impose on women.