By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Jan. 27, 2014) -- About 33,000 of the positions in the Army today that are closed to women are closed because they were in units that were designated as direct ground combat. That will change this year in units that are not under Army Special Operations.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense recently notified Congress of the Army's intent to open those 33,000 positions to women. The change is expected to take place in April 2014, said Col. Linda Sheimo, chief of the Command Programs and Policy Division at the Directorate of Military Personnel Management, Army G-1.
Sheimo said that with recent force structure changes, the Army moved away from "focusing on units. Our plan allowed us to identify all the positions that were closed across the three components, regardless of the unit."
Those 33,000 positions do not include anything within the Special Operations community, she said.
"When we complete Congressional notification in April 2014, the Army will have opened approximately 55,000 positions to women, across all three components, since May 2012." Sheimo said.
OPENING CLOSED MOS TO WOMEN
There are more than 400 military occupational specialties in the Army, of those, 14 are closed to women. The 33,000 positions that will open to women in April do not include jobs in MOS that are closed to women. Instead, they are positions now open to women across the total force -- positions which were previously closed prior to the notification.
Sheimo said the Army still has more than 100,000 jobs closed to women. That includes those MOS that are closed to women. Among those MOS are the 12B combat engineer, 13B cannon crewmember, 11B infantryman, and 19K M1 armor crewman, for instance.
The Army has a plan to determine whether these MOS should open to women, Sheimo said, and women Soldiers may have the opportunity to serve in every position, unit, and MOS where a male Soldier can currently serve.
Before that happens, however, the Army Training and Doctrine Command is leading the effort to revalidate the physical standards required for entry into the 14 currently-closed MOS.
The colonel said that when the Army is complete with its efforts, all individuals joining the Army will understand what standards must be met to be awarded a military specialty.
"Ensuring we have clear standards for all Soldiers will ensure the best Soldiers are assigned to positions, something the Army is calling the 'Soldier of 2020,'" Sheimo said. "What we are trying to do is get the best Solders for the future. The Army's efforts across various spectrums will ensure all Soldiers have the opportunity to serve successfully."
The first MOS to finish the revalidation will be 12B, combat engineer. When the validation is complete, TRADOC and Army G-1 will make a recommendation to the Secretary of the Army about opening the MOS to women Soldiers, or ask for an exception to keep the MOS closed to women.
The Secretary will then review that recommendation, make his own decision, and pass his signed recommendation up to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The OSD will complete their own review of the Army's recommendation and pass their signed recommendation on to Congress. After 30 in-session days of Congress, if lawmakers have not disagreed with the OSD's recommendation, the Army can then begin recruiting female Soldiers into the previously closed-to-women MOS.
For the 12B MOS, it is expected that the Army will have made its recommendation to the OSD by the end of 2014.
The process must be completed for all 14 MOS that are currently closed to women, and Sheimo said that by Jan. 1, 2016, the Army will have passed onto the OSD decisions on each of those.