The push to integrate female soldiers into formerly all-male combat roles and units could increase injuries, deaths, and incidences of sexual assault and ultimately harm national security, experts say.

The Department of Defense (DOD) rescinded the restrictions on direct ground combat for women in January as part of an effort to promote equality in the armed forces and increase opportunities for female soldiers. Military branches are currently researching the performance of females who volunteered for infantry officer and enlisted training courses, and the service chiefs have repeatedly said that standards will not be lowered to accommodate women in combat roles.

However, critics of the initiative say it comes with social and health costs that are counterproductive. And they say they are deeply skeptical of claims by military leaders that standards will not be altered.

“The Pentagon and the White House see this as being about equal opportunity—it’s not about that,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, author of the book Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women into Combat, in an interview. “What kind of nation pushes its young women into direct ground combat? A nation that is willing to compromise security even more and a nation that will not survive in the long term.”

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