University of Pittsburgh
January 24, 2013

Pitt Law Professor Available to Comment on the Decision to Allow Military Women on the Front Line

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey announced the rescission of a 1994 rule banning women in the military from serving in combat roles. The move, which follows a recommendation by the Joint Chiefs to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to military service, is a major win for women in the Armed Forces, according to University of Pittsburgh School of Law Visiting Professor David J. R. Frakt.

“Along with the abolition of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, this step will provide full opportunity for all Americans to join the Armed Forces and for the Armed Forces to develop and utilize the skills and abilities of the all-volunteer force to the fullest extent,” said Frakt. “It also will recognize the reality that military women already have served in combat roles, and it will open up greater opportunities for women to advance their military careers.”

According to Frakt, many military command and leadership positions either require combat experience or the ability to engage in combat. Even in the absence of such a requirement, these roles more frequently are given to those who have proven themselves in a combat role. “That is why, to date, there has been only one female four-star general,” he said.

An expert in the fields of military law, military commissions, counterterrorism, and international war crimes, Frakt has written articles published in such scholarly publications as the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Air Force Law Review, and the Duke Law Journal and in popular periodicals. Frakt has been quoted frequently in such national newspapers as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and he has been a repeat guest on Public Radio International’s The World.

Frakt’s visiting professorship at Pitt’s School of Law is for the current academic year. His teaching areas include military law and criminal law. Frakt earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, at the University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, at Harvard Law School.