After years of review and criticism, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made the historic announcement that all U.S. combat military positions will now open up to women.
The landmark decision, which was announced Thursday, will allow all women to have a fair chance at filling about 220,000 elite military force jobs that are now limited to men, including the opportunity to join the Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, and other Special Operation Units.
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“There will be no exceptions,” said Carter. “This means that, as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before.”
Top leaders in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Special Operations Command all recommended that women have an equal opportunity to fill all positions; however, Marine General and Joint Chief of Staff Joseph F. Dunford suggested that certain jobs, such as machine gunner, remain closed off to women.
While Dunford offered pushback to Carter’s announcement, he did release a statement saying, “In the wake of the secretary’s decision, my responsibility is to ensure his decision is properly implemented.”
The services will have 30 days to provide plans to Carter on how they will enforce the policy change, but Carter makes it clear that an even gender split in combat positions will not happen overnight, saying that “thus far we’ve only seen small numbers of women qualify to meet our high physical standards.”
President Obama also gave remarks in regards to the groundbreaking decision and commended the Defense Department on “taking another historic step forward.”
“As Commander in Chief, I know that this change, like others before it, will again make our military even stronger. Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent,” said Obama. “Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve. I know that, under the leadership of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford, our men and women in uniform will implement this transition — as they have others — in a responsible manner that maintains military readiness and the unparalleled professionalism and strength of our armed forces.”
SOURCE: The Washington Post