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WP: In historic decision, Pentagon chief opens all jobs in combat units to women


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GI Jane coming to US military, but it might take time


Come the New Year, the US military will open all fighting positions to women -- but don't expect to see a female American commando leading a raid into Syria just yet.


Officials say it could take years for women to percolate into some of the military's most specialized roles, including the elite special operations forces that have long epitomized macho soldiering.


"Implementation won't happen overnight," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday as he announced the Obama administration's "No Exceptions" policy unlocking every occupation in America's vast military.


Currently, women only account for about 15.6 percent of the 1.34 million active-duty personnel in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.


When the new rules kick in, 52 military occupations -- some 220,000 jobs -- will accept female applicants, who must still pass the same rigorous physical tests as men.


"For the 52 occupations that were completely closed, we have to start at the beginning," a senior defense official said.


"You have to recruit new recruits, they have to go to boot camp, they have to go to the (specialized) school."


For instance, it takes at least a year and a half to train a Navy SEAL before he (or she) can join a unit. Further training takes about another 12 months before deployment.

General David Perkins, who heads the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, this summer said military studies and a look at the experience of Canada, which has for years allowed women in combat, showed few women are likely to choose such roles.


"It just probably won't be a lot," he said.


One reason is women are "dramatically less inclined" to choose infantry, armored units or artillery than their male counterparts, he said.


In Canada, for instance, where women were permitted to join combat ranks as early as 1989, their numbers in those roles remain low -- making up 0.5 percent of Canadian infantry, two percent of armored units and four percent of artillery, according to Perkins.


But Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, said more women will eventually seek out combat roles.

"When women are given the chance, they seize it," she told AFP.


"It may be a small group at the beginning, but that group may be growing, like what we've seen in sports."


Aside from Canada, the US military follows in the footsteps of other fighting forces around the world allowing women in combat.


Among them are Australia, Denmark, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Sweden.


A RAND Corporation study found women generally adapt well into combat positions -- provided the top brass are committed and involved in the transition.


But not everyone agrees women should be in combat. The Marine Corps called for a partial exemption, after it argued mixed-gender combat units were less effective.


And a study obtained by the Defense One military news site found that SEALs, Air Force special operations forces and non-commissioned officers were still strongly opposed to women joining special operations ranks.


"Female Marines who want to stir the pot by joining the infantry ranks are more interested in their careers than the needs of the Corps -- they are selfish," Marine Captain Lauren Serrano wrote in the Marine Corps Times.


The new policy trumps such concerns, and Carter and other military officials stress that over time, women in combat will actually improve "combat effectiveness."


They point to other changes -- such as letting gays serve openly -- as disproving naysayer gloom.

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  • 1 month later...

Ok as an extreme pinko liberal let me play devils advocate..


I've long struggled with opening up all military positions to women...   Here is my conundrum....


​If women can voluntarily serve in any MOS... should All women also be made to register for Selective Service?    If the Draft came back would women be compelled to serve.    I'm not trying to be insulting, but I know people in my own family, people who I love.. people who I would have serious concerns sending into a combat roll... Now I also have my older sister who could have opened up a new front all by herself in any given military struggle... To me the difference is striking.


While I'm all in favor of opening up all military MOS's to women..  It gives me pause that all women could be compelled to serve.     And if I find that so objectionable is it hypocrisy to favor all MOS's opening to voluntary service?


Second issue...

I believe Israel is one of three countries with mandatory service for women.  ( Israel Norway and Eritrea )...   I know something of Israel's history with women serving in combat...  Israel was one of the first countries regarding women in combat,  but they ended up removing it for a time... It was explained to me because Arabs who would face off against women would fight much harder...   Since then I know its been more than a decade (15 years) since Israel has legally reopened all roles including combat rolls to women. What gives me pause is now after 15 years, there still are some 30% of Israeli IDF roles devoid of women.

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We can debate the merits of the Selective Service. But if the military has every job open to women, it only makes sense that women now register for the Selective Service. The only reason they were exempt is because the Selective Service was used to staff combat arms. Now that women can choose to be in combat arms positions, it's only fair they can be chosen for combat arms.

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Exclusive: Army approves first 22 female officers for ground combat jobs


The Army announced Friday the first 22 women to be commissioned as infantry and armor officers under new rules that open all ground combat jobs to females this year.


The move is a major step toward integrating women into so-called ground combat jobs, placing them in leadership roles in occupations that were never open to them.


The 22 women are near completion of their officer training and will be commissioned as second lieutenants in coming weeks. They need to successfully complete the specialty schools and meet the physical requirements before fully qualifying in the fields.


The military had expected only a small number of women to volunteer for the jobs, at least initially. The Marine Corps said about 200 women a year would likely join newly opened ground combat positions, including the infantry.


The latest Army numbers seem to reflect that forecast, though the numbers could grow as more women enter the fields and pave the way for others.

“Incrementally over time, it’s been one success after another,” Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk, an Army spokesman, said recently about overall efforts to expand opportunities for women in the armed services.


The 22 women are currently in West Point, ROTC or Officer Candidate School and will be commissioned as officers when they graduate. One woman is currently in Officer Candidate School. Thirteen will enter the armor field and nine will join infantry.


Having female leaders in jobs such as the infantry is important, since they can serve as role models for enlisted women who may elect to join the infantry or other ground combat jobs. Newly commissioned lieutenants in the infantry generally serve as platoon leaders in charge of units of about 40 troops.


It is not clear how many enlisted women will be interested in joining the infantry. One Army enlisted recruit has so far signed a contract to enter the infantry, the Army said. The Marine Corps has said they received one request for a transfer to the infantry from an enlisted Marine.


Women have served extensively in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. But until now they had been prohibited from so-called ground combat fields, which include infantry, armor and Special Forces.

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Meet the Army's first female infantry officer


Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first women to earn the coveted Ranger tab, will once again make history by becoming the Army’s first female infantry officer.


Griest is expected to graduate from the Maneuver Captain's Career Course on Thursday and earn the right to wear the distinctive blue infantry cord, officials confirmed to Army Times.


"Like any other officer wishing to branch-transfer, Capt. Griest applied for an exception to Army policy to transfer from military police to infantry," said Bob Purtiman, a spokesman for the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia. "Her transfer was approved by the Department of the Army and she's now an infantry officer."


More women are expected to follow in her footsteps; the Army earlier this month announced that it had approved requests from 22 female cadets to enter as second lieutenants in the infantry and armor branches. Thirteen of the new officers will enter into the armor branch, the other nine will go infantry. After commissioning, the new officers must successfully complete branch-specific training before they will qualify as infantry and armor officers.


The service also opened an eight-week application window for female lieutenants who want to branch-transfer into infantry and armor. Qualified female lieutenants in year groups 2014 and 2015 of the Army Competitive Category, with second lieutenant dates of rank of Oct. 1, 2013, or later, can apply.

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