The Army plans to open to women all but one field artillery MOS, the service's top officer said Monday.
With the exception of the 13F military occupational specialty, "we have decided … we are not going to ask for a waiver to keep it closed," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
This decision, which opens up MOSs such as cannon crewmember (13B) and field artillery automated tactical data system specialist (13D), comes just weeks after the Army opened the combat engineer (12B) MOS to women.
It also follows a decision from more than a year ago to open all field artillery officer positions to women.
A decision about the 13F, or fire support specialist, MOS will be made when the Army makes a decision about whether to open the infantry and armor specialties to women, Odierno said.
"We're going to do that with infantry and armor because they're embedded with infantry and armor units," Odierno said.
These changes are the latest in 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; the goal is to open most positions to women by the end of 2015.
Since 2012, the Army has conducted extensive tests as it tried to determine which MOSs should be opened to women and how it should be done.
"We've done a lot of pilot programs, we've done a lot of physical testing, we've done a lot of testing on how we integrate women into units, and those are all going well," Odierno said. "We want the best person, if they're qualified and meet the standards, we want to give them the opportunity to do whatever they want."
For the field artillery MOSs, using data from the physical studies, "we felt women, as part of an artillery crew, could do all the things necessary to do that [job], so we've opened that up," Odierno said.
Army senior leaders have not made a decision about whether they will ask for a waiver to keep infantry and armor closed to women, he said.
"We're headed in the right direction, but we still have some work to do," said Odierno, who is wrapping up his tenure as chief of staff later this month. "That was a decision I wanted to make, but, frankly, we didn't have the data in time for me to make that decision."
The decision about those remaining MOSs will fall to Odierno's successor, Gen. Mark Milley, who is pending Senate confirmation.
Ranger School update
Odierno also addressed the ongoing integrated assessment at the Army's storied Ranger School.
Two female Ranger School students on Friday successfully completed the course's 20-day Mountain Phase and have moved on to the Florida swamps for the last phase of the course.
If they are successful, they could be the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School later this month.
"In terms of Ranger School, it's the Army's most difficult leader development school," Odierno said. "I think it was important to allow women the opportunity to do that."
Odierno said he doesn't "necessarily connect" opening Ranger School to opening the infantry and armor MOSs, but "I think it's important that we give [women] the opportunity," he said.
"They can go to airborne school, they can go to sapper school. I think they should be able to go to Ranger School," Odierno said.
The assessment, which began in April, has gone very well, Odierno said, adding that he has been impressed by the female students as well as the professionalism of the Ranger instructor cadre.
Odierno also left the door open for another integrated assessment.
"I think we're probably headed towards another pilot course for women," he said. "I think we're looking at a semi-annual course that will have women in it, but that decision will be made down at the infantry school as they do the assessment, and through [Training and Doctrine Command]. We still have a little bit more assessment to do, but I think that's where we're headed."
Odierno emphasized that the Army has not changed the standards for Ranger School.
"We have not changed the standards, and we're not going to," he said. "It's a school that's important, and over time we've developed specific standards for it, and we think those are important, and we have maintained those. And, frankly, in all the conversations I've had, the women don't want us to change the standards. I think as long as we do that, that's the right way to go about this."