Today, the Defense Department released the U.S. military services’ and U.S. Special Operations Command’s plans for implementing women into previously closed positions. In this blog, Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, director, Navy Personnel Plans and Policy, explains what it means for the Navy.
On Jan. 24, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced his decision to rescind the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule. This recession required the Navy to submit detailed plans for the implementation of this policy change, which would allow the integration of women into previously-closed occupational specialties. However, these changes could not be implemented until the proposed changes were submitted to Congress and approved after 30 days of continuous session. The Navy is now preparing for several significant changes, including the assignment of women to Naval Special Warfare, U.S. Marine Corps ground combat element support, and surface and submarine platforms.
How does rescinding this policy affect the Navy?
The rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule will increase assignment opportunity for women in the Navy. The Navy will have no closed occupations, very limited number of closed positions, and equal professional opportunity for females in every officer designator and enlisted rating in the Navy by Jan. 1, 2016.
88 percent of Navy billets are open to the assignment of women. The Navy supports integrating women into newly opened positions and units as expeditiously as possible, considering good order and judicious use of fiscal resources. The Navy’s implementation plan addressed all positions currently closed to the assignment of women, maximizing all feasible professional opportunities for females in the Navy. In order to preserve unit readiness, cohesion, and morale, lessons learned from the surface, aviation, and submarine integration will be used to ensure success.
How many Navy positions will this open?
Pending OSD(P&R) submission and Congressional notification and approval, more than 400 Navy positions in the Coastal Riverine Force Riverine Boat Crews will open in the near future. As directed by the secretary of Defense, the Navy will review all currently closed billets. As ships and submarines are modified or commissioned that fulfill privacy and berthing requirements, we will continue to see an increase in the number of positions available for the assignment of women. The Navy will follow the U.S. Special Operations Command developed integrated timeline for the integration of women into Special Forces.
88 percent of Navy billets are open to the assignment of women. The Navy supports integrating women into newly opened positions and units as expeditiously as possible, considering good order and judicious use of fiscal resources. The Navy is committed to integrating women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible successfully without sacrificing our warfighting capability or the trust of the American people.
What is a summary of Navy’s implementation plan?
In accordance with the Secretary of Defense’s February 2013 memo rescinding the direct ground combat exclusion, the Navy submitted an implementation plan that maximizes all feasible professional opportunities for females in the Navy. With this plan, we fully envision the Navy will have no closed occupations, very limited number of closed positions, and equal professional opportunities for females in every officer designator and enlisted rating in the Navy by January 2016.
The Navy intends to open Coastal Riverine Force Riverine Boat Crews to female officers and enlisted. Upon approval, there will be no restrictions to the assignment of females in the Coastal Riverine Force.
As coordinated with the U.S. Marine Corps, the Navy intends to assign females to the U.S. Marine Corps ground combat element as positions are opened. Navy personnel will adhere to U.S. Marine Corps occupational standards where applicable.
As coordinated with U.S. Special Operations Command, Navy and Naval Special Warfare Command intend to follow the integrated timeline for the potential integration of females into Special Forces. U.S. Special Operations Command will conduct specific research and analysis on the impact of integrating women into small, elite teams that operate in remote, austere environments. These assessments will be completed no later than July 1, 2014.
The Navy has opened opportunities to women officers on all submarine types (SSN, SSBN, SSGN). The Navy will decide no later than March 2015, in addition to service on Virginia class submarines, whether women officers will be assigned to Los Angels class submarines and Seawolf class submarines. As publicly announced in January 2013, the Navy intends to assign enlisted women to Virginia class submarines. The Navy will decide no later than March 2015 whether to expand assignment of enlisted women to other submarine classes.
Women officers and enlisted currently serve on virtually every surface ship class in the Navy and we will continue to expand opportunities as new ships and ship classes are commissioned. The Navy will decide no later than June 2014 whether to expand assignment opportunities for enlisted women to frigates, mine countermeasure ships and patrol coastal crafts.
When will women actually be assigned to closed positions?
Closed positions will be opened to the assignment of women following Navy’s request, OSD(P&R) submission and Congressional notification and approval. In the Coastal Riverine Force, about 400 enlisted and officer positions will be opened to the assignment of women. In the U.S. Marine Corps ground combat element, about 5,000 enlisted and 150 officer positions will be opened to the assignment of women in coordination with U.S. Marine Corps implementation plans. Positions in Naval Special Warfare will be opened in coordination with the U.S. Special Operations Command implementation plans. Once positions have been opened, women will be assigned through the normal personnel assignment process.
Quarterly progress reports on the elimination of gender-restrictive policies will be made to the secretary of Defense through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The Navy will have no closed occupations, very limited number of closed positions, and equal professional opportunity for females in every officer designator and enlisted rating in the Navy by Jan. 1, 2016.
When will women be allowed to become Navy SEALs?
The repeal of Direct Ground Combat Rule does not immediately affect the assignment of women to Navy Special Warfare, and approximately 3,000 positions in Naval Special Warfare remain closed to the assignment of women. All of the services, including the Navy, and U.S. Special Operations Command will proceed in a deliberate, measured and responsible way to assign women to currently closed positions as assessments are completed. U.S. Special Operations Command is working closely with the services to tie their occupational standards to operational requirements and research and analyze social impacts of integrations on small, elite units operating in austere and remote environments. All studies are scheduled to be complete by July 1, 2014.
Assigning women to Navy Special Warfare elements will not begin until assessments are complete and Congress has been notified. Congressional notification for Naval Special Warfare integration will occur no later than July 2015. According to the Special Operations Command integration plan, election for enlisted boot camp and officer selection is scheduled to begin in October 2015, with the SEAL/SWCC pipeline opening to females and cadre placement beginning in January 2016. The first opportunity for enlisted to ship to SEAL/SWCC training is currently scheduled for March 2016, and the first opportunity for officers to ship to SEAL/SWCC training June 2016. All special operations forces position will continue to be filled by the most qualified candidates, regardless of gender.
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