>by the way, regarding combat pay, doesn't the U.S. military still have a policy of not sending women into combat?
Well, that depends on what you mean by "combat". There are a bunch of areas int he world where things are "hot" enough that the area has been declared a combat zone. Inside the combat zone an enlisted member gets total Fedceral tax exemption. An officer gets a limited exemption. The President decides this. Then there are areas which are hot enough (basically you have a chance of getting shot at) that are called hostile fire zones. These are the areas where the members get the extra pay.
Interestingly enough, the two areas aren't exactly the same in most declarations. During Desert Storm, a member could get combat zone tax exclusion without actually being in a hostile fire zone. One of the best magazine articles I wrote was about this, published in April 1995. I wrote it very tongue in cheek and because it was published during tax month I called it "The Ides of Taxes are Upon You". I didn't tell the editor that there was no Ides in April, though there was one in March. She changed it to "Beware the Ides of Taxes" if I remember correctly. I preferred mine, but what writer doesn't???