WASHINGTON: Pentagon Opens All Combat Roles to Women in All Services

December 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Historic Decision.

Capt. Kristen Griest, a military police officer and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot at their Army Ranger course graduation. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright)

Capt. Kristen Griest, a military police officer and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot at their Army Ranger course graduation.
(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright)

Back in August we wrote about two female soldiers who were the first women to graduate from the Army’s grueling Ranger course. At the same time, we noted that Army Captain Kristen Griest and 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver could not apply for a job with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. The elite unit has a separate selection process, which wasn’t open to women.

Well, on Thursday (December 3) that all changed.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that he is opening all jobs in U.S. combat units from the infantry to Special Operations Forces to all “who can meet operationally relevant and gender neutral standards.” That policy change will open all jobs to female soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen — including positions in elite units like the Army Rangers and Navy SEALS — if they meet physical and other standards.

Carter’s decision caps of trend that began in 2013 when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced he was dropping a longtime ban on women serving directly in ground combat units. Since then the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps launched studies of the potential impact of gender integrated combat units. “Both the Army and Marine Corps studies found that women participating in ground combat training sustained injuries in higher  rates than men, particularly in occupational fields requiring load-bearing,” said Carter’s guidance memorandum on implementing the change.

The Marine Corps was the only service to seek exemptions from the rule change, asking to continue excluding women from certain combat jobs. But that idea was strongly criticized by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has authority over the Marine Corps. And Carter’s decision negated the Marines request for exemptions. The top Marine officer who sought the exemptions was General Joseph Dunford, who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the Washington Post. Dunford did not attend the Pentagon press conference where Carter revealed and explained the new policy. But in a statement issued by his office, the Post reported, Dunford said. “In the wake of the Secretary’s decision, my responsibility is to ensure his decision is properly implemented. Moving forward my focus is to lead the full integration of women in a manner that maintains our joint warfighting capability, ensures the health and welfare of our people, and optimizes how we leverage talent across the Joint Force.”

Members of the female engagement team assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment teach a hygiene class to children at a village medical outreach in Boldak, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2010.   (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Marionne T. Mangrum)

Members of the female engagement team assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, teach a hygiene class to children at a village medical outreach in Boldak, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2010.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Marionne T. Mangrum)

The services and Special Operations Command have until January 1 to submit their final, detailed implementation plans to Pentagon officials. They are all required to begin executing their individual plans no later than April 1, 2016.

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Entry filed under: Air Force, Air National Guard, Army, Army National Guard, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Security and Defense, Navy, News Developments, Skills and Training, Special Operations, Washington. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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