WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today announced that the U.S. armed forces will open all combat jobs, units, and schools to qualified women beginning next year, making no exceptions for any branch of the armed services.
Almost four years ago, in November 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union and Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of four servicewomen and the Service Women’s Action Network against the Department of Defense for its blanket exclusion of women from combat jobs, units, and schools.
Following the lawsuit, in January 2013, The Department of Defense officially rescinded a 1994 directive that barred women from being assigned to most ground combat units, but it was not until today that the Department of Defense announced that all military jobs, units, and schools will officially be open to women. As part of today’s announcement, Secretary Carter announced that the service branches will have 30 days to submit plans implementing the decision to open all jobs, units, and schools to women.
The following comment can be attributed to Vania Leveille, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union:
“We applaud the Department of Defense for today’s announcement. Secretary Carter’s decision was the right one for our military and our country. No individual who wants to serve her or his country should be forbidden from competing for or serving in any military capacity solely because of gender. Instead, every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine should be judged on individual merit and ability.”
The following comment can be attributed to Zoe Bedell, plaintiff in Hegar v. Carter:
“I am delighted with today’s announcement. Women have been serving honorably and capably for decades, and the decision to open all combat positions to women, with no exceptions, shows that Secretary Carter and the Department of Defense recognize and respect women’s contributions. We will be following the release of the implementation plans closely, however, and we certainly hope that the service branches demonstrate the same commitment to ensuring we have the strongest security forces possible.”
The following comment can be attributed to MJ Hegar, plaintiff in Hegar v. Carter:
“I’m thrilled the most qualified candidates for all military jobs will be able to serve in critical areas regardless of gender. Women have already been serving side by side with in ground combat, but officially opening all positions will greatly increase our combat effectiveness. In time, people will stop looking surprised when they meet a female combat veteran.”