The Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs Chairman reversed a longstanding policy this week that barred women from serving in frontline units and holding combat arms. Women now have the option of choosing from a slew of hazardous duty Military Occupational Specialties previously only open to men.
According to DOD, the policy change could potentially open up 53,000 unit positions and 184,000 MOS positions to women by the January 2016 implementation date. The military services will be required to set the MOS standards and some specialties could still remain closed to women, but SECDEF must approve all exceptions. A determination whether women should be required to register with the Selective Service System will also be made.
In a Statement on Women in Service, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta stated, “Every time I visited the warzone, every time I’ve met with troops, reviewed military operations, and talked to wounded warriors, I’ve been impressed with the fact that everyone – men and women alike – everyone is committed to doing the job. They’re fighting and they’re dying together. And the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.
According to a USA Today Report, the military has different physical standards based on age and sex for the Army and Marines. In either service, the standards for both sexes would be the same for those trying to get into the infantry and other combat arms specialties.
“The department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender,” Panetta said.
“I’m not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job — if they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve,” he said.
According to VFW National Commander John Hamilton, “there is no question that women have and will continue to serve our nation in uniform with great valor and sacrifice. We fully recognize that not everyone volunteers for the combat arms career fields, but the VFW wishes all who apply much success in meeting the arduous physical and demanding performance standards.”
- Mary Sanchez: Women are ready for combat … are men ready for change? (kansascity.com)
- Md. Female Soldiers Welcome Opportunity To Fight On The Frontline (baltimore.cbslocal.com)