US Navy to Open All Positions Previously Closed to Assignment of Women
As a result of the Department of Defense’s rescission of 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, the Navy is developing plans to move forward in opening all positions previously closed to the assignment of women.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey announced Jan. 24 the rescission the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule for women and that the Department of Defense plans to remove gender-based barriers to service.
“What this means for the Navy is that although no new billets will open immediately, we will now develop a plan that evaluates how we will open all positions previously closed to women,” said Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, Director, Military Personnel Plans and Policy. “The plan will include continued assessment of ship classes to determine the feasibility of retrofit for gender neutral assignment, as well as development and evaluation of gender neutral occupational standards.”
Positions will be opened to women following the Navy’s service review and the congressional notification procedures established by law. All of Navy’s formerly closed positions will be opened, unless an exception to policy is granted by the Secretary of Defense.
As part of the service review planning process, the Navy will undertake an evaluation of all occupational performance standards to ensure they are up to current, relevant, and gender-neutral. The results of this evaluation are to be submitted to the defense secretary as part of the Navy’s overall implementation plan due May 15. The secretary’s direction is for this process to be complete by Jan. 1, 2016.
“Eighty eight percent of all Navy billets are currently open to women and we recently opened the nuclear submarine officer designator,” said Kurta. “We will continue to expand opportunities, and the first step in doing so is the creation of our implementation plan. This will not be an overnight change, but a careful, thoughtful process. “
The elimination of the policy will potentially open over 5,000 enlisted United States Marine Corps (USMC) Ground Combat Element positions, and 150 USMC Ground Combat Element officer positions.
“Gender-neutral occupational standards, which are under development by Marine Corps, will be used to assess and assign Sailors to USMC Ground Combat Element positions,” said Kurta.
As part of the Navy’s required implementation plan, guidance for the assignment of women to Coastal Riverine Forces and USMC Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) positions will also be developed. As detailed in NAVADMIN 015/13, Navy will work with Navy Special Warfare Command and US Special Operations Command to develop and evaluate a way ahead for the assignment of women to Naval Special Warfare-designated billets.
“Women have shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles,” Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said. “The Department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.”
Naval Today Staff, February 1, 2013; Image: US Navy