SECDEF says 'no exceptions' to women in combat

Women in the armed forces of the United States will no longer be limited to being “in the rear with the gear.”

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will order the Pentagon to open all military combat roles to women, rejecting limitations on the most dangerous military jobs. The secretary’s orders will give the branches until January 1st to plan their changes and force those combat roles open to women by April 1st. This includes infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations forces.

“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said at a news conference.

The only branch to attempt to exclude women from combat roles was the Marine Corps, who conducted an internal study of gender-integrated units vs. all-male units and found the integrated ones to be less effective.

U.S Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Chandra Francisco with the female engagement team in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, talks to Afghan women inside a compound during an operation to clear the village of Seragar in Sangin, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2011. The village has seen an increase in enemy activity. U.S. Marines cleared the area in order to deny the enemy sanction in the village of Sereagar.

Lance Cpl. Chandra Francisco with the female engagement team in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines talks to Afghan women inside a compound during an operation to clear the village of Seragar in Sangin, Afghanistan. (Marine Corps photo)

Women already have access to most front-line roles in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Earlier in 2015, women were integrated into the Navy’s Submarine Service. Women have been serving as fighter pilots in the Air Force since 1993, and the Army has been fighting to open its infantry positions to women since September 2015.

The defense secretary’s order is not without consideration for potential recruits. His rationale is simply that any qualified candidate should be allowed to compete for the jobs.

Pfc. Julia Carroll after a six-hour patrol during patrol week of Infantry Training Battalion near Camp Geiger, N.C (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Pfc. Julia Carroll after a six-hour patrol during patrol week of Infantry Training Battalion near Camp Geiger, N.C (U.S. Marine Corps photo)