One of the responsibilities of 15th Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey during his tenure was to track the service’s integration of women into combat arms for his bosses and lawmakers.

As of Aug. 1, all infantry, armor and field artillery battalions assigned to active-duty brigade combat teams include female soldiers.

More than 1,200 women have been accessed into infantry, armor and field artillery since 2016, and gender-integrated infantry and armor units are currently deployed, service officials said.

As it stands this summer, at least 30 women have earned the Army Ranger tab — a key hurdle for a successful career in ground combat leadership.

“I think we are way ahead of schedule from where we ought to be,” Dailey told Army Times before he stepped down from the SMA role last week. “The numbers are small. They are going to be. We knew that. Only 14 percent of the Army is female. And then if you break that down into percentage of propensity to want to serve in combat arms, you can see the numbers will get relatively small.”

Part of Dailey’s job included going out to the field, checking implementation at the ground level and reporting back to the Army chief and congressional staff in the House and Senate.

Now that he has retired from the Army, his successor, SMA Michael A. Grinston, will likely pick up where he left off on a lot of fronts, including updating higher-ups on the service’s efforts to integrate women into its infantry, armor, fire support specialist and special operator communities.

Dailey also added that there has been no data given to him to indicate there have been any abnormal issues with gender integration.

“The statistics are no different than any other organization,” he said. “There is no spike in sexual assaults, sexual harassment.”

Part of the problem with the small number of women in the Army was that it forced the service to integrate rather slowly. That gave the impression to some watchers that the Army was stalling or slow-rolling the process.

But the service argues that it had to set the conditions to make sure problems wouldn’t arise, or least try to prevent them.

“If you put very small numbers and isolate them inside of organizations regardless of their demographic — male, female, Hispanic, white, African American ... You could create an opportunity for error,” Dailey said. “We had female leaders inside those organizations prior to sending female soldiers to them to make sure they had peer mentors, battle buddies, just someone to talk to.”

The Army has seen women volunteering to go infantry and armor from all of its commissioning sources, the deputy chief of staff for personnel, Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, said last September.

“I asked West Point, the think tank up there, to tell me what they saw [with] the propensity, and looking at the West Point cadets, the propensity is actually going up among our females," Seamands said.

The Army sees it as critical to get tested women leaders into the combat units to guide the path for junior enlisted women.

“It’s important, right," Dailey said. "Because when I was a young infantry soldier, I sought out what I call a like-male counterpart, right. So someone I wanted to be like, someone I aspired to be, someone that mentored me, someone I trusted.”

Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.

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