WASHINGTON, (March 10, 2016) -- The Army announced today details of its implementation plan for integrating women into all military occupational specialties (MOSs), paving the way for qualified female soldiers to serve in the Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces.

Initially, the Army will manage the assignments of women through a "leader first" approach. Beginning this year, women will be able to branch as Infantry and Armor officers, followed then by female enlisted soldiers to ensure they are assigned to operational units with integrated women leaders.

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.

"We're not going to turn our back on 50 percent of the population," said Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy. "We are opening up every occupation to women. I think that's pretty historic."

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 integrated units; 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.

"An incremental and phased approach by leaders and soldiers who understand and enforce gender-neutral standards will ensure successful integration of women across the breadth and depth of our formations," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.

Between May 2012 and October 2015, the Army led all services in gender integration by opening more than 95,000 positions and nine occupations to women. In 2015, three soldiers became the first women to complete Army Ranger School, one of the most demanding leadership schools in the U.S. military.

The Secretary of Defense's Dec. 3, 2015, decision opens 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, its senior leaders have said they will develop policies and set conditions to recruit and retain the best people.

Related Links:

STAND-TO!: Army Gender Integration Implementation Plan

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Secretary Carter's Approval of Women in Service Review Implementation Plans