FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON (February 2, 2016) -- Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testified today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, detailing how they plan to fully integrate women into all military occupational specialties (MOSs), paving the way for qualified female soldiers to serve in combat units.
"Every volunteer who swears to support and defend our Constitution should be afforded the opportunity to serve according to their merit in any military career field," Murphy said. "Women represent greater than half our population and the Army intends to take full advantage of this talent pool."
Today's testimony comes after the military departments submitted their integration plans to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter last month. The Army will manage assignments of women through a leader first approach, with females able to serve as infantry and armor officers later this year in designated brigade combat teams. Once integrated female leadership is in place, female enlisted soldiers will then be assigned to those operational units.
"Readiness is my number one priority, I believe full integration of women in all career fields will improve the readiness and capability of the force," Milley said.
Since 2011, the Army has comprehensively assessed barriers to service and taken a deliberate, incremental, and methodical approach to opening all positions and occupations to the best-qualified soldiers, regardless of gender. Under the new policies, all soldiers will have the opportunity to serve in any occupational specialty based on their individual capabilities and the needs of the Army, allowing the Army to recruit soldiers and leaders from a larger pool of qualified personnel.
"The process of gender integration will be methodical and deliberate. Army leaders will continue to assess and adjust the process to ensure that standards and combat readiness is maintained," Milley said.
The Army is implementing full integration through five lines of effort: updating physical and administrative screening standards; managing talent to select, train, and promote the best qualified soldiers; building unit organizations to facilitate female leadership; educating soldiers and leaders and communicating how gender integration increases the readiness of the Army; and continually assessing integration strategies to successfully posture the force.
Between May 2012 and October 2015, the Army opened more than 95,000 positions and nine occupations to women. The Secretary of Defense's Dec. 3, 2015, decision opened an additional 220,000 positions to women; however, the force drawdown and continued force structure changes will affect any final numbers.
As the department continues modernizing and innovating to stay ahead of future threats, Army-wide policies will be developed or adjusted to provide opportunities to recruit and retain the best people.