By Debbie Gregory.
Earlier this year, the US Army announced their decision enabling female soldiers to be eligible for up to 4,100 positions that, in the past, would have only been open to male troops. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s (USASOC ) Directive 2015-08 was signed in February, 2015, including women for positions in the US Army Special Forces Command, National Guard airborne battalions, and tactical psychological teams. Yet to be inclusive of women are closed combat positions in Special Forces, Ranger, or other similar combat units as detailed in the Direct Ground Combat Assignment Rule.
This impetus is now the focus for all four of the services to develop gender-neutral standards for all military occupations. Ideally, the Pentagon officials expect the rules to be in place by the fiscal year end. The intent is to identify the best personnel to fulfill positions by passing the qualifications of the position, regardless of gender.
Currently, there are approximately 80 women participating in a training and assessment course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and six female officers have recently completed the Ranger Training Assessment Course. While the officers have earned the Ranger Tab, they will not be eligible to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment, which is still closed to women. Recommendations from these assessments will be included in what accommodations, if any, are needed to open up Ranger School to women.
Implementing these changes in phases are deliberate. While women have proven their capabilities in many specialties already, including maneuver units, the physical demands of combat units will need to be evaluated, and whether standards will be compromised if women are included.
“The desired end state is enhanced capability, supporting the Army chief of staff’s strategic priority to build adaptive Army leaders for a complex world,” according to the USASOC statement. “USASOC is committed to maintaining the highest standards and delivering the most qualified operators to the nation, irrespective of gender.”
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