Joint Chiefs of Staff Introduce Plan to Integrate Women into Combat Roles

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FROM: General Martin E. Dempsey, CJCS

SUBJECT: Women in the Service Implementation Plan

The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously join me in proposing that we move forward with the full intent to integrate women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible. To implement these initiatives successfully and without sacrificing our warfighting capability or the trust of the American people, we will need time to get it right.

• We recognize the bravery and contributions of women in combat. We have made tremendous progress in expanding service opportunities for women since your February 2012 announcement, which officially notified Congress of the Department's intent to rescind the co-location restriction and to implement Exceptions to Policy (ETP) allowing women to be assigned to select positions in ground combat units at the battalion level. Recently, the Services opened 13,139 positions under co-location and an additional 1,186 positions under Exceptions to Policy.

• Guiding Principles. To successfully integrate women into the remaining restricted occupational fields within our military, we must keep our guiding principals at the forefront. We are driven by:
o Ensuring the success of our Nation's warfighting forces by preserving unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.
o Ensuring all Service men and women are given the opportunity to succeed and are set up for success with viable career paths.
o Retaining the trust and confidence of the American people to defend this Nation by promoting policies that maintain the best quality and most qualified people.
o Validating occupational performance standards, both physical and mental, for all military occupational specialties (MOSs), specifically those that remain closed to women. Eligibility for training and development within designated occupational fields should consist of qualitative and quantifiable standards reflecting the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for each occupation. For occupational specialties open to women, the occupational performance standards must be gender-neutral as required by Public Law 103-160, Section 542 (1993).
o Ensuring that a sufficient cadre of midgrade/senior women enlisted and officers are assigned to commands at the point of introduction to ensure success in the long run. This may require an adjustment to our recruiting efforts, assignment processes, and personnel policies. Assimilation of women into heretofore "closed units" will be informed by continual in-stride assessments and pilot efforts.

• Goals and Milestones. The following goals and milestones will support the elimination of unnecessary gender-based barriers to service:
o Services will expand the number of units and number of women assigned to those units --based on ETP-- and provide periodic updates on progress each quarter beginning in 3rd quarter, FY 2013.
o The Navy will continue to assign women to afloat units as: (1) technical changes and modifications for reasonable female privacy and appropriate female berthing arrangements are completed; (2) female officer and enlisted leadership assignments can be implemented; and (3) ships' schedules permit. Integration will be expeditiously implemented considering good order and judicious use of fiscal resources.
o Services will continue to develop, review, and validate individual occupational standards. Validated gender-neutral occupational standards will be used to assess and assign Service members not later than September 2015.
o The Services and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will proceed in a deliberate, measured and responsible way to assign women to currently closed MOSs as physical standards and operational assessments are completed and as it becomes possible to introduce cadres as described above. The Services and USSOCOM must complete all studied by 1st quarter, FY 2016, and provide periodic updates each quarter beginning in 3rd quarter, FY 2013.
o If we find that the assignment of women to a specific position or occupational specialty is in conflict with our stated principles, we will request an exception to policy.

• This deliberate approach to reducing gender-based barriers to women's service will provide the time necessary to institutionalize these important changes and to integrate women into occupational fields in a climate where they can succeed and flourish. Ultimately, we will ensure the success of our military forces and maintain the trust of the American people.