Guard Reacts to Combat Roles for Women

NGAUS Washington Report

(Jan. 29, 2013) The Army National Guard in several states reacted positively and quickly last week when the Pentagon lifted its ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions to women after generations of limits on their service.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the historic policy change at a news conference.

The move opens about 237,000 positions to women, including 184,000 in combat-arms professions and 53,000 assignments that were closed based on unit type. Most of them are in the Army and Marines.

Several Army Guard organizations quickly announced the opening of some combat positions to women.

The California National Guard released a statement saying the greater diversity “translates directly into mission success, both in combat overseas and during domestic operations here at home.”

In New York, women will be able to serve in up to 350 officer and noncommissioned officer positions in the state’s four combat battalions. Selections of eligible female soldiers will begin as early as May.

Panetta has directed the services to undertake an evaluation of all occupational performance standards to ensure they are gender-neutral. The results of this evaluation are to be submitted to the defense secretary by May 15, while the entire process is to be completed by Jan. 1, 2016.