Ateam of uniformed and civilian Marine evalua- tors, supported by an array of academic and government research organizations, are conducting an intensive review of reams of data that will
help the commandant make a decision in September that
could fundamentally change the future Marine Corps.
The commandant must decide whether to open to
female Marines the most dangerous and physically
demanding ground combat jobs, which have been
exclusively male for the Corps’ 239-year history.
The decision, which Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr. expects
to make before he moves up to chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff in October, must deal with the 20 military
occupational specialties (MOSs) currently closed to
female Marines. Those include the various infantry skills,
such as rifleman and machine gunner, plus field artillery
cannoneers, and tank, amphibious assault vehicle and
light armored vehicle crewmen.
Although those are a small percentage of all Marine MOSs, they
represent about 60,000 of the
Corps’ 184,000 total Marines.
But perhaps more importantly,
in what will be an intensely emo-
tional decision, those MOSs —
particularly the infantry 03XX —
represent the essence of the Corps’
historic self-image, which is
reflected in the cherished slogan of
“every Marine a rifleman.”
Dunford’s difficult decision was
mandated by then-Defense Secre-
tary Leon Panetta’s January 2013
action repealing the last of the
Pentagon’s rules limiting what positions servicewomen can fill and
ordering the services to integrate
women into the closed positions “as
expeditiously as possible, considering good order and judicious use of
fiscal resources,” but no later than Jan. 1, 2016.
Panetta’s order allowed possible exemptions, but
specified that any recommendation to keep an MOS
or unit closed to women must be approved personally
by the defense secretary and “must be narrowly tai-
lored and based on rigorous analysis of factual data
regarding the knowledge, skills and abilities needed
for the position.”
That order was reinforced by “sense of Congress” lan-
guage in the fiscal 2014 national defense authorization for
the three service secretaries to produce “gender-neutral
occupational standards” for assigning service members to
all units, including Special Operations Forces.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Army GEN Martin E. Dempsey
then issued guidance requiring assignments based on
validated physical and mental standards for currently
closed positions, while stressing “preserving unit readiness, cohesion and morale.”
Women in Combat
Marine Corps to decide what jobs will be opened to female Marines
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
In January 2013, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta removed
the last of the Pentagon’s rules limiting what positions servicewomen can fill, ordering the services to integrate women into previously closed positions no later than Jan. 1, 2016.
; Panetta’s order allowed possible exemptions, but specified
that any recommendation to keep a military occupational specialty unit closed to women must be approved personally by the
; The Marine Corps commandant must decide whether to open
to female Marines the most dangerous and physically demanding
ground combat jobs.
; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who will review the commandant’s
recommendations before they go to Defense Secretary Ashton
B. Carter, has said his presumption is that all positions will be
opened to women.