SAN ANTONIO -- Change is coming for women in military service who wish to serve on the front lines. But are women ready to take combat roles once held only by men?
Many young Army women are training for battle here in San Antonio at Camp Bullis.
"What they're seeing is similar to what they would see in the battlefield," said Deanne Martinez with the Army.
The soldiers used a triage system to evaluate wounds to their comrades during a training exercise.
"Teamwork, y'all... teamwork," one soldier said.
"You can go from hot to cold to hot in two seconds," PFC Jessica Agostini said. "There's so much movement and (it's) very intense because the bombs are going off."
"Get down," said another soldier as a bomb was going off. "All clear."
With bombs going off and smoke making training intense, it felt like we had stepped into a real battlefield. As we walked the camp grounds, the young women we saw didn't get any special treatment. They all trained just as hard as their male comrades.
"I've seen the struggles of females," Martinez said. In the Army for 15 years, Martinez has already been through this training and lived it.
"It's harder being a female in the military because you have to prove that you can do the job that a male can do," she said.
Critics continue to question women's strength and even their emotions.
"They need to be here and they need to see (that) we are just as capable as any man," PFC Nicole Brown said.
Brown is a mother of two. She left retail sales to fight for her country. She said when training gets tough, she thinks of her little ones back home, but it has never stopped her from completing her missions.
"I'm ready to do the real thing," Brown said.
"Did you ever think as a woman that women shouldn't be doing this?" Agostini was asked.
"No, never... Not one second," Agostini said.
Real-life scenarios prepare these soldiers for the worst. These young females do admit some missions would be harder to handle than others.
"I'm five foot and I'm 120 pounds. If a guy is 300 pounds, I can't carry him by myself," Brown said.
In the end, they said, it doesn't matter if they're male or female. They stand together on common ground.
"If duty calls, I'll come running," Agostini said.
They just want the chance to officially take on a role that once wasn't available.
"There should be no deviation because it's a female," Martinez said.
Since U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted the ban, hundreds of thousands of front-line jobs for women will now be open. As for the battalion we met at Camp Bullis, they will be graduating later this February, after which they could be deployed at any time.