Women in Combat Roles to Become a Reality Jan. 1, 2016

A cadet at the graduation ceremony for U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., listens to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' remarks, May 23, 2009. Of the 970 cadets, 144 are women. Photo courtesy of Army.mil.

A cadet at the graduation ceremony for U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., listens to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ remarks, May 23, 2009. Of the 970 cadets, 144 are women. Photo courtesy of Army.mil.

It’s official.The Department of Defense plans to integrate women into combat positions they previously could not hold because of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment.

But not all positions are open as of yet. For example, Admiral William McRaven, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, submitted a three part proposal to determine if women can serve in the small, elite teams like the SEAL Teams, the Ranger Regiment and Special Forces Groups among others.

His plan for USSOCOM: Part one, an analysis with emphasis on “gender-neutral training standards” of entry courses and an evaluation of facilities.  Part two: research into the social and psychological impacts of integrating women into the teams. And part three: commission an independent study by RAND Corporation looking at those same topics.

Reports from all three parts are due July 2014. Then by April 2015, USSOCOM will submit to Congress a list of positions and “occupational specialties” open to women. And, at that time some units and specialties still might request an exemption from including women.

Full implementation by the services should occur by Jan. 1, 2016. The following are links to the individual plans:

On Jan. 24, 2013, former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey initiated the call to lift the ban on women in combat.

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