Army plans integrating women into combat roles

| June 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
Master Sgt. Renee Baldwin (left) fires a 0.50-caliber machine gun during training at Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr range in Germany, in summer 2012. By Jan. 1, 2016, women will be able to apply to all military occupational specialities, and to all Army units, across the total force. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

Master Sgt. Renee Baldwin (left) fires a 0.50-caliber machine gun during training at Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr range in Germany, in summer 2012. By Jan. 1, 2016, women will be able to apply to all military occupational specialities, and to all Army units, across the total force. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

C. Todd Lopez and Julia Henning
Armed Forces Press Service

No later than Jan. 1, 2016, women will be able to apply to all military occupational specialties, and to all Army units, across the total force.

The Army’s plan includes first opening closed units to women, and then opening all closed military occupational specialties (MOSs) to women.

Closed units

Today in the Army, some combat units at battalion level and below are still closed to women. One of the first steps the Army will take is to open those closed units.

This step will not involve opening closed MOSs to women, but rather, opening closed units to allow women to serve there in MOSs that are already open to both genders.

Already, the Army has made headway in this area, said Maj. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Army personnel.

In 2012, the Army opened 14,000 positions in closed units to female Soldiers with the elimination of the “co-location restriction” through its “Exception to Policy” program. Women were assigned to maneuver battalion headquarters in nine brigade combat teams (BCTs) as an exception to the Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule.

Spc. Crisma Albarran, with Task Force 38's Co. B, 3rd Bn., 158th Avn. Regt., detaches an ammunition case from its mount after a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flight over Iraq, March 14, 2010. Albarran volunteered for the job as door gunner prior to her second deployment to Iraq, and has flown more than 100 hours toward her door gunner certification. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

Spc. Crisma Albarran, with Task Force 38’s Co. B, 3rd Bn., 158th Avn. Regt., detaches an ammunition case from its mount after a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flight over Iraq, March 14, 2010. Albarran volunteered for the job as door gunner prior to her second deployment to Iraq, and has flown more than 100 hours toward her door gunner certification. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

This year, the Army has already signaled its intent to open an additional 6,000 positions within closed units. The Army will accomplish that by opening up an additional eight active duty BCTs to women — for a total of 17; nine Army National Guard BCTs; and also positions within special operations aviation.

The Army will continue to open positions in closed units, initially within the headquarters of combat arms units, such as infantry, armor and field artillery. The Army will also open headquarters positions to women in reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and acquisition maneuver battalions.

For enlisted Soldiers, about 76 MOSs that are open to both male and female Soldiers are represented within closed units. For officers, about 35 officer areas of concentration are represented within closed units. And for warrant officers, 19 warrant officer military occupational specialties are represented in closed units.

Opening new jobs to women

Beginning in July 2014, the Army will first open MOSs within the Army engineer branch. New opportunities for women there include combat engineer and combat engineer senior sergeant.

Once those occupations open, the Army will assign female engineer officers and any reclassified NCOs to combat engineer companies. This method will open up approximately 10,281 positions to women.

Beginning in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015, the Army will open previously closed positions within the field artillery branch. After that, opportunities for women will expand to include cannon crew members, field artillery automated tactical data systems, fire support specialists and field artillery senior sergeants.

Within the field artillery ranch, the change will ultimately open about 15,941 jobs to women.

Additionally, the Army will open positions to women with the armor and infantry branches. Positions there are numerous. Enlisted women will, for the first time, have the opportunity to serve as cavalry scouts, armor crewmen, infantrymen and indirect-fire artillery. As a result of this change, about 90,640 positions will open for women in the Army.

The Army will also offer junior officers and junior noncommissioned officers the opportunity to transfer branches or reclassify into these occupations as a way to build a cadre of experienced female Soldiers prior to the arrival of Soldiers who are new to the Army.

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