Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Air Force Ready to Open All Combat Jobs to Women, Secretary Says | Military.com

Air Force Ready to Open All Combat Jobs to Women, Secretary Says | Military.com: The Air Force is ready to lift all restrictions on combat jobs and other military occupational specialties for women and also is taking a "lean forward" approach on allowing transgender airmen to serve openly, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Monday.

"I don't see any barriers to opening up those remaining career fields" that are still closed to women so long as gender-neutral standards are kept in place, she said to applause from the audience at the Air and Space Conference, held in National Harbor, Maryland, and sponsored by the Air Force Association.

James also said the service was "looking to see if there are ways that we can make reasonable accommodations" for transgender airmen.

The controversial issue of lifting restrictions on women serving in combat MOSs -- mostly in the infantry, armor and artillery -- will come to a head at the end of the month. That's when the services must report to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on whether they will seek "exceptions" to the 2013 order from then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to gender integrate all billets.

The Marine Corps last week said that its extensive testing of mixed-gender units in combat training showed that women were more prone to injury and also that such outfits failed to perform as well as all-male units.

James said the Air Force has been the most aggressive of the services in lifting restrictions on women and that now only seven MOSs in Special Operations remain closed to them.