In 2016, women will be able to join the ranks of the Army's infantry, armor and special operations units.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Dec. 3 announced his decision to lift all gender-based restrictions on military service starting in January, paving the way for women to serve in these previously all-male specialties.
The decision opens nearly 220,000 jobs across the military — that's about 10 percent of the force — to women.
"There will be no exceptions," Carter said. "This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they never could before. They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars, and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that previously was open only to men."
The decision allows the military to tap into "the broadest possible pool of talent" as it builds "America's force of the future," Carter said.
This means several key Army MOSs will soon open to women. They are infantry, which is the Army's largest MOS; armor; forward observer; and Special Forces.
Before this decision, the Army in the past three years has opened about 95,216 positions and nine occupations to women. This includes the combat engineer (12B) and cannon crewmember (13B) MOSs.
The Army also conducted a gender-integrated assessment of and later opened its storied Ranger School. Three women have graduated from the course to earn the coveted Ranger tab.
Each of the services was given until Jan. 1 to provide the Defense Department with "final, detailed plans" on how they will integrate the newly opened occupations and positions, according to information from DoD.
Positions will be open "as soon as practicable" following the required congressional notification period and in accordance with final, approved service implementation plans, according to DoD. The services must be ready to execute those plans no later than April 1.