Senior U. S. defence officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
A senior military official says the services will develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year. Assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALS and the Army’s Delta Force, may take longer.
The official said the military chiefs must report back to Panetta with their initial implementation plans by May 15.
Females currently serve in combat areas in non-combat positions in the US military. If Panetta reverses the official ban, then women will be able to take the combat positions that have been denied to them.
It’s under study. Not all jobs necessarily will be open to women.
But the officials caution that “not every position will open all at once on Thursday.” Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can integrate them.
The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report back on their progress.
The move will be one of the last significant policy decisions made by Panetta, who is expected to leave in mid-February. It is not clear where former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the nominated replacement, stands, but officials say he has been apprised of Panetta’s coming announcement.
“It will take awhile to work out the mechanics in some cases. We expect some jobs to open quickly, by the end of this year. Others, like Special Operations Forces and Infantry, may take longer,” a senior defense official explains. Panetta is setting the goal of January 2016 for all assessments to be complete and women integrated as much as possible.
The Pentagon has left itself some wiggle room, however, which may ultimately lead to some jobs being designated as “closed” to women. A senior Defense official says if, after the assessment, a branch finds that “a specific job or unit should not be open, they can go back to the secretary and ask for an exemption to the policy, to designate the job or unit as closed.”
Makes sense, since the reality is a lot of them have been serving in combat roles as it is.
Plus it makes a huge difference for promotions and the like. It’s not a wide open thing, every branch has to basically tell what roles are restricted to men and give a decent reason for it. Everything else will end up available to women.
I heard on the radio coming into work that the Marines tried to run a test using women. They wanted 90 volunteers, got 2, and both washed out in 2 days. Now it wouldn’t shock me that the Marine Corp may not have wanted this to work out but I don’t know that as a fact.
Males and females don’t have the same basic physical fitness standards now.
This was always a source of complaints while I was in the Army. Some male soldiers would complain that the females got to “sham” through the test while doing the same (noncombat) jobs. Some females would complain that the lowered standards marginalized their accomplishments and made them appear weak.
I understand that there are female servicemembers who have proven themselves to be physically, mentally, and morally capable of leading and executing combat-type operations; as a result, some of these Marines may feel qualified for the chance of taking on the role of 0302. In the end, my main concern is not whether women are capable of conducting combat operations, as we have already proven that we can hold our own in some very difficult combat situations; instead, my main concern is a question of longevity. Can women endure the physical and physiological rigors of sustained combat operations, and are we willing to accept the attrition and medical issues that go along with integration?
I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.
I have full faith that female Marines can successfully serve in just about every MOS aside from the infantry. Even if a female can meet the short-term physical, mental, and moral leadership requirements of an infantry officer, by the time that she is eligible to serve in a strategic leadership position, at the 20-year mark or beyond, there is a miniscule probability that she’ll be physically capable of serving at all. Again, it becomes a question of longevity.
Which once again leads me, as a ground combat-experienced female Marine Corps officer, to ask, what are we trying to accomplish by attempting to fully integrate women into the infantry? For those who dictate policy, changing the current restrictions associated with women in the infantry may not seem significant to the way the Marine Corps operates. I vehemently disagree; this potential change will rock the foundation of our Corps for the worse and will weaken what has been since 1775 the world’s most lethal fighting force.
I had a good friend (female) who went into the Navy after high school. She made the good point that, if a shooting war started, the supply ships would be the first targets rather than the warships. In her words, “If you sink the tankers, pretty soon the destroyers stop moving.” As far as she was concerned, serving on a supply ship was already a combat position.
It’s a valid point. Combat Arms takes a serious toll on your body. What if women have a shorter shelf life in the service? What if they’re going out on disability much earlier than men? How do you handle the costs? What does the return on your investment (training) look like?
The Corp is often quite misogynistic. That said, I don’t think they’d skew the test.
Women have seen quite a bit of fighting in support roles. Hell, our supply lines were the front lines in Iraq.
Understood, I just think the question changes when your dealing with Combat Arms. Can you lift a wounded soldier? Can you carry a full pack? It becomes an issue of combat effectiveness.
These are questions that will only be answered by trying women out in combat roles. I get that women are physically constructed differently from men, but I feel that if a female can do the job, then let them. If it turns out that women cost more in the long run due to the biological delta, then we can cross that bridge when we get to it.
This goes hand in hand with…
This. I’ve always felt that the basic minimum PT standards being different for the genders was a sick joke. IMO, they need to change that immediately. Combat is combat. That ammo box is going to weigh the same no matter who you sleep with or what you have between your legs. Women have been serving in combat areas for years. The standards should be the same.
Does anyone remember an old reality TV show that aired on the USA network? It had various armed forces personnel (all male) in random teams pitted against each other in mock missions with some sort of funky advanced laser tag setup. One of the surprising things was that one of the better and most effective players, who twice had his whole team wiped and had to carry out the mission his damned self, was a SWAT guy, who was like 5’3", and not in peak physical condition like all the Army & Navy Seal dudes.