The Army's top enlisted leader says there are not enough female NCOs and officers looking to transfer to combat arms jobs.

"Currently, we have over 100 young women across America who have volunteered to join our ranks as cavalry scouts, armor crewmen, fire support specialists and infantrymen," Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey wrote Monday in a memo to the force. "… As young soldiers do, they will look for leadership and mentorship from their superiors. Unfortunately, we have not had a sufficient number of serving female soldiers and [noncommissioned officers] volunteer to transfer into these mentorship and leadership roles."

Dailey applauded the incoming recruits for being willing "to take on some of the most challenging assignments the Army offers."

"We need leaders to help shape the next generation of combat soldiers," Dailey wrote. "I know we have female soldiers with the drive and ability to be successful in ground combat arms formations. If you think you have what it takes, I am personally asking you to consider transferring to these select combat arms specialties."

The path won't be easy, wrote Dailey, a career infantryman.

"The standards have and always will be very rigorous," he said. "You will be challenged both mentally and physically. If you are interested in taking on this challenge and leading our soldiers into the future, please talk to your career counselor today."

The Defense Department in January lifted all gender-based restrictions on military service, effectively opening to women about 220,000 jobs in all, or about 10 percent of the entire active and reserve force.

In the Army, this meant several key military occupational specialties were opened to women, including infantry, the Army's largest MOS; armor; forward observer; and Special Forces.

Before this decision, the Army in the past three years has opened about 95,200 positions and nine occupations to women, including 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.

Since Carter's decision to lift the last of the gender-based restrictions on military service, the Army has taken a "leader first" approach to integrating it all-male units.

This means seeking to put in place female officers and NCOs before integrating new, junior soldiers.

So far, at least 22 new female officers have been approved to enter the Army as second lieutenants in the infantry and armor branches. After commissioning, the new officers must successfully complete branch-specific training before they will qualify as infantry and armor officers.

The Army also previously opened an eight-week application window for female lieutenants who want to branch-transfer into infantry and armor and provided combat arms reclassification opportunities for enlisted women.

Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.

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