Now that Defense Secretary Ash Carter has decided to open all combat jobs to women, the Air Force will spend 2016 laying the groundwork to integrate women into these career fields.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Dec. 8 that it is possible that some women may start training for newly opened jobs such as tactical air control party, pararescue and combat rescue officer in 2016. But because of the multiyear training path these jobs require, the Air Force said that women won't start seeing combat in those jobs for at least another 2 1/2 years.
The Air Force Recruiting Service said that recruiters will start trying to bring female candidates into those jobs Jan. 2. And the Air Force's recruiting website and printed materials are being redesigned and updated to drop the male-only language from those jobs. The redesigned AirForce.com site is expected to launch in late January.
The other three jobs now open to women are special operations weatherman, combat controller and special tactics officer. All newly opened jobs account for 4,099 positions in the Air Force.
The elimination of gender-based combat job restrictions will likely be the biggest step the Air Force takes toward creating a more diverse force.
Stephen Losey covers Air Force leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times.