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Army: Combat schools closed to women until MOSs open

Dec. 15, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
First Female Marines Graduate Infantry Training
Army combat schools remain closed to women for now, while the Marine Corps infantry course has graduated a few, such as Pfc. Julia Carroll. (Sgt. Tyler L. Main / Marine Corps)
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The media was abuzz last month with news that the first female Marines passed enlisted infantry basic training, but the Army is not yielding to any pressure to open its own infantry basic training to women, or any of its still closed combat arms schools or courses.

The Army will not open any of those schools to women, including Ranger school, until the service has opened the combat jobs to women, said David Brinkley, deputy chief of staff, operations and plans for Training and Doctrine Command.

“Our view is, when we open [the military occupational specialty], we start sending women to the training,” Brinkley said Dec. 4 after briefing the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. “When we open infantry up, we start sending women.”

The female Marines who graduated from infantry basic training will not be assigned to infantry jobs because those jobs in the Marine Corps are not yet open to women. The women will go to different MOSs.

That is a situation the Army wants to avoid.

“Why would you send somebody to training and then not be able to use them as they were trained?” Brinkley said. “We have a fundamentally different approach than the Marines. I’m very confident that we are scientifically and legally grounded.”

At the briefing, Brinkley said male soldiers were concerned that political pressure would force the Army to impose quotas or let women into combat MOSs when they were not qualified.

He said he knows people want the Army to move faster in its gender-integration efforts, but that the Army is taking a deliberate and scientific approach to ensure standards are not lowered.

Brinkley said Ranger school has not opened because the school primarily feeds Rangers to Ranger-coded positions.

“It’s tied to the opening of the positions,” Brinkley said. “This rush to grandstand the opening of some school would be only done for some sort of political view. To open something to grandstand is not the right way to do it.”

Brinkley said when the infantry MOS is opened, then Ranger school would be, too.

“This is about opening up everything effectively without lowering standards or decreasing readiness,” he said. “We want to make sure that the Army is better at the end of this.”

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