More than 4,100 officer and enlisted "men only" positions in special operations units of the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve will be opened to women.
The Feb. 27 directive authorizing the policy change does not apply to the closed combat occupations and skills that comprise a bulk of the soldier jobs in Special Forces, Ranger and similar-type in-your-face combat units.
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 goal is to open most jobs to women by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2015.
The campaign began in 2012 when the Army opened 13,000 positions previously closed to women in 80 units, to include some jobs in field artillery battalions.
One year ago 3,600 field artillery officer positions were added to the gender-neutral count, followed in June by another 33,000 positions involving a diverse mix of officer and enlisted specialties in maneuver units, primarily brigade combat teams.
Included in the latter count are several hundred positions with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which currently is recruiting women to serve as pilots, mechanics and in other duties with that high-speed unit based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The Army also is moving toward opening up Ranger School to women.
Six female officers have successfully completed the Ranger Training Assessment Course, and are scheduled to attend Ranger School in April, a first for the Army.
About 80 more women are scheduled to attend the training and assessment courses that will be conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia, this spring in March and April.
Women who graduate from the Ranger Course will be awarded the Ranger Tab, but they will not be eligible for assignment to the 75th Ranger Regiment, which remains closed to women.
The previously closed units are being opened incrementally, so that female leaders can be assigned to units first, and provide support and mentoring to junior women soldiers as they flow into units via the normal assignment process.
The organizations being opened to women as a result of the Feb. 27 directive from Army Secretary John McHugh are:
- Army Special Operations Command (Airborne)
- Army National Guard Special Forces Group (Airborne) Battalions
- Military Information Support Operations Command Tactical Psychological Teams
- Special Forces Military Free Fall Operations, and associated additional skill identifiers 4X for officers and W8 for enlisted soldiers.
The changes will be reflected in an upcoming revision of Army Regulation 600-13, the go-to regulation for policies dealing with the assignment of female soldiers.
As the Army continues to assess the viability of opening additional jobs to women, the following specialties and skills remain closed to women:
Branch Officer Areas of Concentration
11A (Infantry), 18A (Special Forces), 19A (Armor, general), 19B (Armor) and 19C (Cavalry)
Branch Officer Skill Identifiers
3J (M1A2 Abrams tank), 3X (M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicles), 3Z (mortar unit officer), 4W (underwater special operations), 5R (Ranger) and 5S (Ranger parachutist)
Warrant Officer Military Occupational Specialty
180A (Special Forces warrant officer)
Warrant Officer Additional Skill Identifiers
4W (underwater Special Forces)
Enlisted Military Occupational Specialties
11B (infantryman), 11C (indirect fire infantryman), 11Z (infantry senior sergeant), 12B (combat engineer), 13B (cannon crewmember), 13D (Field Artillery Automated Tactical Data System specialist) and 3F (fire support specialist).
Also, 18B (Special Forces weapons sergeant), 18C (SF engineer sergeant), 18D (SF medical sergeant), 18E (SF communications sergeant), 18F (SF assistant operations and intelligence sergeant), 18Z (SF senior sergeant), 16D (cavalry scout), 19K (M1 armor crewman) and 19Z (armor senior sergeant).
Enlisted Additional Skill Identifiers
A1 (M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), A8 (master gunnery M1 and M1A tank), B7 (Bradley Transition Course), B8 (Anti-Armor Leaders course), C2 (Dragon gunnery), E9 (M901 Improved TOW Vehicle gunner and crew training) and F9 (Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data system).
Also, J3 (Bradley infantry fighting vehicle master gunner), K8 (master gunnery M1A1 tank), K9 (combat engineer mine detection dog handler), Q5 (Special Forces combat diving, medical), R4 (Stryker armored vehicle operations and maintenance) and R8 (mobile gun system master gunner).
And, S6 (Special Forces combat diving, supervision), U6 (field artillery weapons maintenance), W3 (Special Forces target interdiction operations), W7 (Special Forces underwater operations), 2C (Javelin gunnery) and 6B (Long Range surveillance Leaders Course).
Enlisted Skill Qualification Identifiers
G (Ranger), T (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta unit operator), V (Ranger parachutist) and W (Special Forces advanced reconnaissance, target analysis and exploitation techniques).