'Days of Rambo Are Over': Military Details Plans for Integrating Women Into Combat Units

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Other combat jobs will still require longer study and review, not only for developing the new standards but also for more mundane things like new lodging and privacy needs that would be necessitated by allowing women into the units.

The service representatives said they are consulting with SOCOM as to how to proceed with allowing women into their special ops units.

But the plans presented Tuesday show the Army could begin to allow women to enter the Army's elite Ranger School after July, 2015 and the Navy could allow women into SEALS training in early 2016.

While the Army has tentatively set plans to allow women to enter Army Ranger School to earn the "Ranger Tab," it does not mean that female graduates will automatically get to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Like their male peers, they will have to successfully meet the unit's own selective standards. The same might hold true for sailors who train to become SEAL's.

Last January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the 1994 Combat Exclusion Rule that restricted women from serving in frontline infantry, armor and special operations units and set a January 2016 compliance deadline. The concept of a frontline became blurred in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as women serving in other units also became the targets of roadside bombs and attacks. To date, almost 150 military women have died in those wars.

The services have varying numbers of jobs that have remained closed to women as a result of the rule. While the Navy has 88 percent of its jobs open for women, the Air Force has had 99 percent of its positions open to women for years. Among the jobs closed to women in the Air Force are positions in combat control, tactical air command and control, pararescue and special-operations weather positions.

The stated goal of lifting of the ban was to open all combat jobs to women, but the services were given the option of requesting an exception that would have to be approved by the defense secretary. Though they are tentative in nature and many details still have to be reviewed, the timelines reflect the goal of including women in all combat units.

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