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Dunford Says All in Military Will Work to Fully Integrate Women

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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SIGONELLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Italy, December 5, 2015 — Following Defense Secretary Ash Carter's announcement Dec. 3 that all military specialities would be open to women, it is the responsibility of all in the military to ensure that the integration process is done well, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford spoke to reporters here while on the first stop of his multi-day, three-continent trip with the 2015 USO Entertainment Troupe.

“As the senior military advisor and the senior uniformed leader, it’s my job now to assist the secretary with full implementation to make sure that we do it in a way that maintains our combat effectiveness, maintains the health and welfare of our troops and takes advantage of the talent of all the men and women that we have in uniform,” the chairman said. “So we are getting after that now.”

When the general served as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the service asked for exceptions for infantry and special operations forces. Carter examined the plans for integration of women into all specialties provided to him by each service and concluded a good implementation process would overcome the concerns expressed by the Marine Corps.

Next, each of the military departments will provide the defense secretary with their implementation plans by Jan. 1. “My role is to assist the secretary in overseeing the implementation of the plan for the force,” he said. “That’s what he has tasked me to do and I look forward to doing that.”

Italy Base ‘Critical’ to Objectives

Dunford also discussed with reporters the critical role played by Signonella Naval Air Station in U.S. and European objectives in Africa and the Middle East. The United States is an integral nation in the anti-terror coalition and, he said, the base right in the middle of the Mediterranean is key. “It’s a hub,” the general noted.

“The United States is taking actions both in Africa and the Middle East and working cooperatively with our coalition partners and allies to exchange information and ensure that we build a coalition to deal with the challenges,” Dunford said.

Sigonella has a traditional mission to fly P-3 Orions over the Mediterranean and keep track of the naval activity in the region. There is also a growing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission on the base that supports U.S. and coalition goals.

The base also houses a special purpose Marine air-ground task force, ready for operations throughout the region. The unit’s placement is driven by its capabilities and response time. “It’s split between here and Moron [Air Base], Spain, and can be prepositioned in Africa should indications and warnings drive us to do that,” Dunford said.

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