More than three years into its efforts to recruit and assign women to every combat military occupational specialty, more than 1,000 women have joined the infantry, armor and field artillery branches, according to a May 21 release from the Army.
They are currently spread over brigades at five of the Army’s biggest posts, and later this year, Army G-1 Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands said in the release, five more are due to open this year: Fort Riley, Kansas’s 1st Infantry Division; Fort Stewart, Georgia’s 3rd Infantry Division; Fort Drum, New York, and Fort Polk, Louisiana’s 10th Mountain Division; and Vicenza, Italy’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
“As part of a multi-year effort to open other assignments to female soldiers, as many as 500 women currently serve in every active brigade combat team in the Army down to the company level," Seamands said.
Officers will head to those units first, followed by noncommissioned officers and then junior enlisted soldiers, as part of the “Leaders First” integration plan the service has followed since the Defense Department officially lifted the ban on women serving in combat jobs.
The Army first graduated women from its infantry, armor and artillery basic officer leader courses in late 2016, as female NCOs transferred to those branches, then opened their corresponding basic training programs for new enlisted recruits the following year.
Fort Hood, Texas’s 1st Cavalry Division and Fort Bragg, North Carolina’s 82nd Airborne Division integrated them first, followed by Fort Campbell, Kentucky’s 101st Airborne Division; Fort Bliss, Texas’s 1st Armored Division and Fort Carson, Colorado’s 4th Infantry Division.
That order was determined by the size of those divisions and the variety of armor, infantry and field artillery units to choose from, Seamands told Army Times last year.
“To date, the Army has successfully accessed and transferred more than 1,000 women into the previously closed occupations of infantry, armor, and field artillery,” he said. “Currently, 80 female officers are assigned to infantry or armor positions at Forts Hood, Bragg, Carson, Bliss, and Campbell.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.