Washington - The US military will open all combat jobs to
women, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday, despite
objections by the Marine Corps.
Women will now be allowed to serve in about 220 000 positions that
had remained closed to them, including infantry, armour,
reconnaissance and special operations, he said.
Carter made the decision to open all jobs to women after a review of
recommendations from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines following
years of study. Only the Marines had asked for an exception to
continue excluding women from some jobs, he said.
"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,"
"They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry
soldiers into combat," he said. "They'll be able to serve as Army
Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Air
Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only
The move reflects the need to draw talent from the entire population
to best serve the needs of the modern military, Carter said.
Women had already seen combat during the US wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, but had continued to be excluded from certain positions
labelled as combat roles.
The military will have 30 days to open the positions and draft plans
for how to include women in the force.
Carter expressed confidence that the policy could be implemented
successfully and individual members of the military would be judged
on their merits, not their gender. There would be no quotas for women
to serve in certain roles or units, he said.
Carter said he believed concerns raised by the Marines that allowing
women could result in more casualties could be addressed during the
implementation of the policy and the military would be best served by
integrating all services without exceptions.
The Marine Corps objections had been raised by General Joseph
Dunford, who has since been promoted to chair of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, but Carter dismissed concerns that Dunford might not
support the decision.
"He will be at my side," Carter said. "He understands my decision. My
decision is my decision."
The Pentagon announced in 2013 that it would open combat positions to
women, and the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines released plans to
open occupations such as infantry, armour and special operations by
The military has since then also been studying how to open elite
fighting units, such as the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALS, and
weighing whether some positions should continue to exclude women.