Female Soldiers to Begin Serving in Combat Units in April

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 09:15 PM

By Cathy Burke

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About 33,000 jobs that used to be off-limits to female soldiers will be opened to them starting in April, more than a year after a policy was canceled that kept women out of combat.

Stars and Stripes reported Friday that the spots are in 132 specialties ranging from Black Hawk pilot to radio operator.

Though women have already performed those jobs elsewhere in the service, beginning in April they'll be able to work those jobs in ground combat units.

“This will allow more flexibility in determining how who gets assigned to a position,” personnel staffer Col. Linda Sheimo told the newspaper. “The focus of the Army implementation plan is to have the best soldier in our Army, and we are on track to accomplish that.”

The jobs won't include infantry or special operations units.

In May 2012, women filled 22,000 similar positions in maneuver battalions in nine brigades; another 600 women got jobs when the brigades were expanded to 26 last summer, the newspaper said.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ended the ground combat exclusion policy in January 2013 before he left the Pentagon — and gave the military until 2016 to full integrate women in the service.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Thursday current Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is "committed, as was Secretary Panetta before him, to removing as many barriers to that service as possible and to make the military service a vocation that one wants to pursue and can pursue for a career."

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