The Army has taken a major step toward eliminating combat exclusion policies for women by opening some 20,000 combat engineer and associated skill positions to female enlisted soldiers of the active and reserve components.

Under policies now in effect, unit manning documents coded for military occupational specialty 12B (Combat Engineer), and seven related additional skill identifiers are available for fill by qualified women.

The associated ASIs are 2C (Javelin Gunnery), 6B (Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course), B6 (Combat Engineer Heavy Truck), D3 (Bradley Fighting Vehicle Operations and Maintenance), J3 (Bradley Fighting Vehicle Master Gunner), K9 (Combat Engineer Mine Detection Dog Handler) and S4 (Sapper Leader).

Women previously have served as engineer officers, and in 16 enlisted engineer occupations, with the exception of certain positions in special operations units.

12B had been the only remaining specialty closed to women. By opening the MOS and its associated skill identifiers, 20,563 previously closed positions are open to women.

The changes are part of an ongoing campaign to eliminate the Direct Ground Combat Assignment Rule by dismantling, in phases, policies that have barred women from serving in combat units below the brigade level.

The campaign began in 2012 when the Army opened 13,000 positions previously closed to women, and most recently by the opening of 4,100 "men only" positions in special operations units of the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.

The goal is to open most positions to women by the end of 2015.

The service has yet to open combat occupations and skills that comprise a bulk of soldier jobs in Armor, Infantry, Special Forces, Ranger and similar -type in-your-face combat units.