It may be another two years before women can start training for jobs in Army Ranger and Navy SEAL units under plans to be announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday, a Defense Department official familiar with the matter said.
The official declined to be named because the plans are not yet announced.It is part of the next step in a longstanding effort to open as many combat jobs as possible to women.
The plan now is for jobs in special operations to be available to women possibly in mid-2015. The official argued the latest development is not a delay, but is more of an acknowledgment by the military that it needs more time to study the issue. Full implementation of women into combat positions, including infantry and armor units, is to be completed by January 2016.
The military has gradually been opening more jobs to women. But in January, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered all jobs open to women unless a specific "exception" was requested by the military services.
The Pentagon since has been working on plans to implement those orders with the plans expected to be announced on Tuesday. Baseline physical fitness requirements will continue to vary on the basis of gender and age. The services are determining job performance standards that everyone equally will have to meet, such as the ability to reload tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons. This had the impact of now allowing women to serve in frontline Army and Marine combat units, as well as unique jobs such as putting enlisted women on submarines.
In 2012, the Army opened over 14,000 positions to women. The latest move, to be announced Tuesday, could open approximately another 6,000 jobs to women in the Army.
Military Women in Combat