Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2014

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Annie Hough-Everage

Second Advisor

Doug Devore

Third Advisor

Danielle Williams


In 1994, Les Aspen, then Secretary of Defense, approved a Department of Defense direct ground combat exclusion policy that permitted all service members to be detailed to any position for which they qualified. The policy prohibited women from assignments to units that had the possibility of being exposed to direct ground combat. Due to the unanticipated and inadvertent involvement of women coming under hostile attacks during Desert Storm and the Iraq War, the military has explored making a paradigm shift toward allowing women in ground combat units. During Operation Desert Storm and the Iraq War, many women found themselves engaged in ground combat due to their combat support units coming under fire. Female service members learned to fight on the job since they received little to no in-close combat training. The idea of women fighting in ground combat may have the support of public opinion, but, senior military officials are not ready to fully embrace this new concept. One may argue that to be competitive, an organization, including the military, must change the organization’s mindset and culture to deal with the increased terrorism, congressional policies, and the expectations of their foreign allies. The military has changed its policies on women serving in ground combat units. However, according to Maginnis (2013), Congress is “kowtowing to radical feminist and accepting the mass media illogical formulation of the issue as one of equal rights” (p. ix) without considering the possible influence female integration may have on a unit’s cohesion