Open all combat jobs to women – Defence chief to US military

December 4, 2015 6:55 am

Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced he is ordering the U.S.
military to open all combat jobs to women, rebuffing requests by the
Marine Corps to exclude women from certain front-line combat jobs.
that “we are a joint force,” Carter said that while moving women into
these jobs will present challenges, the military can no longer afford to
exclude half of the population from grueling military jobs. He said
that any man or woman who meets the standards should be able to serve,
and he gave the armed services 30 days to submit plans to make the
historic change.
Carter’s order opens the final 10 percent of
military positions to women, and allows them to serve in the military’s
most demanding and difficult jobs, including as special operations
forces, such as the Army Delta units and Navy SEALs.
The Joint
Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Marine Corps
commandant, had argued that the Marines should be allowed to keep women
out of certain front-line combat jobs, citing studies showing that
mixed-gender units aren’t as capable as all-male units.

Carter said he came to a different conclusion, but he said the
integration of women into the combat jobs will be deliberate and
methodical and will address the Marine Corps concerns.
did not attend the conference to announce the change, and when
asked about that absence, Carter said he has discussed his decision
multiple times with the chairman.
While noting that, on average,
men and women have different physical abilities, Carter said the
services must assign tasks and jobs based on ability, rather than on
gender. He said that would likely result in smaller numbers of women in
some jobs. Equal opportunity, he said, will not mean equal participation
in some specialty jobs. But he added that combat effectiveness is still
the main goal, and there will be no quotas for women in any posts.
decision comes after several years of study, and will wipe away
generations of limits on how and where women can fight for their
Only the Marine Corps sought any exceptions in removing
the long-held ban on allowing women to serve in dangerous combat jobs.
The Army, Navy and Air Force have moved steadily toward allowing women
to serve in all posts, and only the most risky jobs remain closed.
A senior defense official said the services will have to begin putting plans in place by April 1.
has hinted at this decision for months, telling U.S. troops in Sicily
in October that limiting his search for qualified military candidates to
just half the population would be “crazy.”
He had given Dunford
until the end of October to forward his review of the services’
recommendations on which jobs, if any, should remain closed to women. As
Marine commandant, Dunford was the only service chief to recommend that
some front-line combat jobs stay male-only, according to several U.S.
Carter had pledged to thoroughly review the
recommendations, particularly those of the Marine Corps, but said he
generally believes that any qualified candidate should be allowed to
compete for jobs. But the senior defense official said that while Carter
recognises there may be difficulties in opening the jobs to women, he
has made his decision and all the services will follow it.
a question from a Marine in Sicily, Carter said, “You have to recruit
from the American population. Half the American population is female. So
I’d be crazy not to be, so to speak, fishing in that pond for qualified
service members.”
For that reason, the defense secretary said the military should recruit women into as many specialties as possible.

Skip to toolbar
shared on