You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Congress puts gender-neutral combat job standards into law

Dec. 10, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
First female Marines attend infantry course
Marine Corps students with Infantry Training Battalion practice basic marksmanship techniques in September at Camp Geiger, N.C. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (Sgt. Tyler Main / Marine Corps)
  • Filed Under

Pentagon official say they have no intention of creating special fitness standards for women who want to serve in combat jobs — but Congress wants to see that promise in law.

The 2014 defense authorization bill that is nearing completion includes a provision that will require the Pentagon to create a “gender-neutral occupational standard” for any combat jobs — infantry, armor, artillery and others — that are opened to women.

The new law comes in response to the military’s controversial policy that aims to open up nearly all military jobs to women by the end of 2015. For years, several hundred thousand jobs have been closed to women, but the Pentagon announced plans earlier this year to eliminate all gender-based restrictions.

The provision in the defense bill also calls on the individual service secretaries to “develop, review, and validate individual occupational standards” relating to women in combat no later than September 2015, or several months before the hard deadline for opening up those jobs.

The new provision was advocated by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a former Marine officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Hunter has repeatedly voiced concerns that political pressures to bring women into combat career fields could result in a lowering of standards that puts troops at greater risk.

The top brass have sought to dispel those concerns by repeatedly stating that standards will remain unchanged.

The Marine Corps recently saw three enlisted women graduate from its grueling nine-week infantry training course in North Carolina, but for now those women will not be assigned to serve in combat jobs with an infantry unit. The Corps plans to continue studying the issue before unveiling a formal integration plan.

The strongest pushback so far has come from officers in the U.S. Special Operations Command, who fear integrating women will jeopardize the unit cohesion of the small —typically 12-person — special operations teams.

Advocates of the change say women have served in dangerous, combat-related jobs for years but their careers suffer because promotion boards cannot official recognize that service.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook