Barely a day after declaring during a visit to the Virginia Military Institute that "the jury is out” on the effectiveness of women in infantry roles in the Army and Marine Corps, Defense Secretary James Mattis begrudgingly sought to clarify his statement on the matter and walk back his perceived dismissal of female combat troops.
Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first women to successfully complete the U.S. Army’s famed Ranger School, is set to become the U.S. military’s first female infantry officer, according to a new report from Army Times.
This year may be banner year for women in the military. Women have now graduated from the Army’s famed Ranger School and the Navy has signaled that it will open the SEALs to women beginning Jan. 1, 2016. With the possible exception of the Marines, the services seem inclined to open all formerly excluded combat positions to women. Additionally, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James released a comprehensive plan in March to improve recruiting and retention for women in the Air Force, and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus released a similar plan in May. But despite all of this progress, there are worrying signs — including online harassment and the continuing drumbeat of military sexual assault — that women still aren’t considered full-fledged members of the profession of arms. A large part of the problem is that the services’ senior leaders still haven’t made a strong enough case for the value of women to the military.
The 2016 deadline set by the Pentagon for top military leaders to review gender restrictions on combat roles is quickly approaching. Now, even the famed basic underwater demolition/SEAL training may be open to women as soon as next year.