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Where no women have gone before

With thousands more jobs open, Army seeks junior enlisted in 17 BCTs

Sep. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
XXX JG-43086-2-24-2013_-12165-.JPG USA MO
First Lt. Ashley Miller carries her gear during a lake training event at the Army's Sapper School this year. The course presents soldiers with the kind of challenges that may help women prepare for a wide range of jobs in the Army. (Jack Gruber/USA Today)
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About 20,000 jobs in the battalion and company headquarters of brigade combat teams and special operations aviation units are now open to women.

The jobs open to women are in eight Regular Army and nine Army National Guard brigade combat teams, plus the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

The Army has announced more details about the military occupational specialties that will open to women and the timeline for assignment decisions for a range of combat jobs.

A distinguishing feature of the new MOS list is the inclusion of requirements for junior enlisted soldiers in some specialties at skill levels 1 and 2. This signals a new phase in opening jobs to women: During the initial phases of the drive to open more BCT positions to women, the emphasis was on officers and noncommissioned officers.

Now, the Army is recruiting women for assignment to junior enlisted positions in the battalion and company headquarters elements of BCTs. As the integration progresses, assignments to these positions will be made without regard to gender.

The service is dismantling in phases the policy that has barred women from serving in combat units below the brigade level.

The goal is to open all jobs to women within the next two years, with gender-neutral standards in place by the end of 2015.

The elimination of the policy, called the Direct Ground Combat Assignment Rule, began last year when the Army opened 13,000 positions previously closed to women in 80 units, to include Multiple Launch Rocket System and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System battalions.

Additionally, an exception to the DGCAR was granted to nine Regular Army BCTs, which resulted in an additional 1,000 positions being opened to women.

Under a recent directive from Army Secretary John McHugh, the phased shutdown of DGCAR has been expanded to 17 brigades and the 160th SOAR.

McHugh’s Aug. 6 directive authorizes the new openings. It also authorizes the nine brigades included in last year’s directive to open junior enlisted and junior NCO (skill levels 1 and 2) positions in the headquarter elements of maneuver battalions to women.

In implementing these changes, the Army initially has filled newly opened positions with officer and NCO leaders to serve as cadre for junior soldiers, and to reinforce Army values of dignity and respect.

The latest actions involve about 6,000 positions, for a total opening so far of 20,000 positions.

What's next

The long-term goal for the integration of combat units is to open 76 enlisted MOSs, 35 officer areas of concentration and 35 warrant officer specialties to both female and male soldiers as part of the normal assignment process.

McHugh has directed that gender-neutral accession standards be established by the end of fiscal 2015, and DGCAR restrictions be eliminated by Jan. 1, 2016.

“Subsequently the Army will begin a long-term program to study the experience of female soldiers in previously closed occupations and positions from the point of accession throughout their time in service in order to determine if adjustments should be made to accession standards, and to collect injury data in physically demanding occupations,” according to McHugh.

In a related effort, the Army also is working toward opening several non-special operations MOSs to women who routinely engage in close combat.

Decisions on assignment policies for the closed occupations are expected to begin on this schedule, according to Lt. Col. Justin Platt, spokesman for the Army G-1, chief of human resources:

Late 2014:

■MOS 12B (combat engineer)

Early 2015

■Field artillery specialties of 13B (cannon crewmember)

■13D (field artillery tactical data system specialist)

■13F (fire support specialist)

Summer 2015

Armor officer specialties:

■19A (armor, general)

■19B (armor)

■19C (cavalry)

Enlisted specialties:

■19D (cavalry scout)

■19K (Abrams tank crewman)

■19Z (armor senior sergeant)

Infantry specialties:

■11A (infantry officer)

■11B (infantryman)

■11C (indirect fire infantryman)

■11Z (infantry senior sergeant)

At the end of these evaluations, the Army will notify units to open the specialties, or request an exception to policy to close positions, units or specialties to women.

Getting ready

In support of the phased elimination of DGCAR restrictions, McHugh has directed that units identified for integration conduct enhanced equal opportunity and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training.

Such training will be conducted down to the squad level, and in cases where women are not assigned against identified positions, training must be conducted within a month after the arrival of women into an active-component unit, or within three months for National Guard and Army Reserve units.

In addition to the training topics identified in the SHARP standdown of this past spring, unit members are required to watch the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute video “Who’s on Your Team,” followed by a small group discussion. Units also are required to conduct a command climate survey.

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