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Department of Defense News Briefing on Implementing Women into Previously Closed Positions

Presenters: Juliet Beyler, Office of the Secretary of Defense; Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, U.S. Army; Col. Jon Aytes, Marine Corps; Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick, Special Operations Command; Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, Navy; Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, Air Force
June 18, 2013

            COLONEL STEVE WARREN:  Thanks, everyone, for coming.  Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us for the women in service review implementation plan briefing.  Today we've got representatives from every service, Special Operations Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  They're going to briefly discuss their plans which were submitted to the secretary in May.

             After they've all briefed their plans, we'll go to questions.  Quickly, I'll run through the briefers.  Ms. Juliet Beyler, who's at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, is the director, Officer Enlisted Personnel Management; Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, U.S. Army G-1; Col. John Aytes, U.S. Marine Corps head of the military policy branch; Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick, U.S. Special Operations Command, director of force management and development; Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, U.S. Navy U.S. Navy, director Military Personnel Plans and Policy, N13; and then Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, U.S. Air Force director of Force Management Policy, deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services.

            So this briefing is completely on the record.  And with that, Ms. Beyler, over to you.

            JULIET BEYLER:  Okay.  So, good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today.  I'm joined by senior military representatives from each service and U.S. Special Operations Command.  I know you're all very interested in what we're about to say, so I'll get right to the point.

            This afternoon, we're releasing each service and SOCOM's plans for how they will manage the incremental integration of women into previously closed units and occupations throughout the U.S. military.  I'll offer a few remarks and then turn it over to each of them to brief their respective plans.

            The department's goal is to ensure that the mission is met with the best, most fully qualified, and most capable people, regardless of gender.  To that end, on January 24th of this year, then-Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey announced a decision to rescind the 1994 direct ground combat definition and assignment rule. 

            They directed development of plans describing how each service and SOCOM intends to integrate women into previous closed jobs and how they intend to execute the guidance to: one, review and validate all occupational standards to ensure that they're current, operationally relevant, and applied gender neutrally by September 2015; two, to complete all studies by September of 2015; and finally, to ensure full implementation by Jan. 1, 2016.

            Each military department secretary, along with Adm. McRaven, submitted their plans in mid-May.  Those plans were then reviewed by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I'll let my colleagues talk to the specifics of their plans, but here are a few things that each have in common.

            Each service and SOCOM will manage the incremental opening of their positions following the notification to Congress along two general categories, one, currently open occupations which were previously restricted based on unit of assignment, so, for instance, an administrative clerk in a tank battalion or a truck driver in an artillery battalion.  Currently closed occupations -- that's the second group -- that's, for example, infantry, armor and special operations.

            Each service and SOCOM is working with various scientific and research agencies to review and validate operational standards to ensure that they are current, definitively tied to an operational requirement, and applied on a gender-neutral basis.  Each service and SOCOM is conducting a thorough doctrine, training, education, facilities and policy analysis to ensure deliberate and responsible implementation, and, finally, each service and SOCOM has identified decision points by which they will make final determinations to open occupations and positions or to request an exception to policy to keep a position or occupation closed.  Exceptions to policy must be personally approved by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

             And with that, I'll turn it over to the Army, Lt. Gen. Bromberg, sir.

             LIEUTENANT GENERAL HOWARD BROMBERG: Thank you.  And good afternoon.  Thanks for this opportunity.

            The Army is very excited about the approval of our plan -- implementation plan to move forward -- as we move forward (inaudible) 2020.  As you know, we started in 2012, where we -- before the direct ground combat assignment was removed.  With exceptions to policy inside of nine brigade combat teams, where we placed women down in positions that were previously closed.

            In that exception of policy, we learned a lot of things and we went forward with that.  And so following the SECDEF's announcement earlier this year, we've further gone out in the next step and expanded it to 17 more brigade combat teams, and nine of those being in the National Guard, so now we're across the total force with expanding opportunities for women in these positions.

            Our plan, as you've -- as you'll see, has basically four lines of effort or four major avenues of approach here, and that's first by opening positions that are previously restricted by the direct ground combat assignment rule, such as I just talked about those positions in the brigade combat teams.  And then their second line is to focus on gender-neutral standards, focus on the task requirements as we move forward, and our -- and our third line of effort is focused on a gender integration study, looking at those social and cultural aspects of integrating women into formations that -- where there have never been women historically before.  And then our fourth line of effort to work very closely with Special Operations Command as they move forward in those areas, where we are expanding opportunity for women there. 

            Our approach is integrated.  It's scientific.  And it's incremental decision points all along the way to get for the best soldier in 2020 and also expand these opportunities for women to move forward.  Again, we're very excited about the approval of our plan and look forward to discussing it with you.

            COLONEL JOHN AYTES:  Thank you, sir.  And good afternoon.

            The Marine Corps' approach is we are taking a very deliberate and very measured and a responsible approach towards this.  We're conducting some formal and informal research involving the collection and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data.

            Our research plan essentially has two -- two components.  First, we're assessing previously closed military occupational specialties, or MOS’.  We have 335 primary MOS’, of which 32 are currently closed to females.  Second, we're evaluating the integration of female Marines into a variety of the 303 open MOS’ into selected ground combat units right now, units that were closed to females under the previous policy.  For example, the female Marine adjutant can be assigned and is assigned to a tank battalion.

            Data collected over these two components will be analyzed and assessed in three phases across the next three years.  So our plan is to approach this policy from the standard -- it's a comprehensive approach.  It's a DOTMILPF [Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership & Education, Personnel, and Facilities] perspective from a doctrine operations and training, and so on.  To ensure that we thoroughly examine this issue from a whole-of-force manner, we will do this in any kind of institutional change for this organization.

            In phase one, during the first component of our research, we're going to be reviewing and validating those gender-neutral physical standards for all of our 335 of our primary MOS'.  To date, we've determined that there are more than 250 physically demanding tasks among those primary MOS’, and what we have done is we've developed five proxy tests to represent these various tasks.

            This summer we'll test 400 male and 400 female Marines using those proxy tests, and then we're going to correlate that data against those Marines' existing physical fitness test and combat fitness test, or PFT and CFT events, and using that information as collected, we're going to try to build a safe, a very simple screening test that we're going to use to contract our applicants coming into the Marine Corps.

            Also in phase one, during the second component of our research, we're assessing that integration of female Marines into those selected ground combat units.  We're getting qualitative feedback from the participants, as well as the commanders themselves, and this information is going to be used in conjunction with the quantitative data collected from our physical test to inform recommendations on our way forward. 

            Our recommendation will be to open MOS' or units or to request a policy exemption for identified MOS’ or those units as we go forward.  In phase two, we're going to set conditions for the implementation of our way forward recommendations.  For example, if we recommended opening MOS’ or units, setting conditions for force-wide implementation will include actions such as modifying facilities or educating the force to get that done.

            In phase three, we're going to execute our way forward recommendations.  So, for example, again, if we recommend implementing a policy without exemptions, we'll open those identified MOS’ and units or units in a logical sequence that neither impacts the combat effectiveness of the unit, nor the capability of the individual Marine.

            What does this mean now?  Right now, we're collecting data.  We are continuing to physically test male and female Marines.  We're continuing to assess the integration of those female Marines assigned to selected ground combat units.  And we're using this very deliberate methodology to ensure we do this right.  Right means we maintain combat-effective units across the total force and we don't set our female Marines up for failure by not preparing them for any resultant institutional change.

            Thank you.

            MAJOR GENERAL BENNET SACOLICK:  Thank you.  I'll begin by stating that Adm. McRaven applauds the department's decision to eliminate the direct combat assignment rule.  However, we have some genuine concerns that must be addressed prior to making an informed recommendation to the secretary of defense, a recommendation which complies with the chairman's guiding principles of preserving unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.

            Of particular concern is our mission set, which predominantly requires our forces to operate in small, self-contained teams, many of which are in austere, geographically isolated, politically sensitive environments for extended periods of time.  This complexity requires a unique assessment predicated upon detailed analysis, ultimately providing a single, clear, consistent procedure for execution throughout the SOCOM enterprise. 

            Because our forces are inherently joint, a decision made by a single service can have rippled effects across the SOCOM enterprise.  Therefore, we have and will continue to work closely with the services as we move forward.

            However, the scope of our analysis will focus on the following eight occupational specialties, plus the instrument assigned to the Ranger regiment, totally and approximately 16,000 special operations positions, all assigned to SOCOM.

            In the Navy special warfare command, we are looking at our SEALs and our special boat crew members.  In the Marines Special Operations Command, we are looking at our Marine critical skill operators.  In the Air Force Special Operations Command, we are looking at our special tactics officers, combat controllers, special operations weather personnel.

            And in the Army Special Operations Command, we're looking at our special forces and our Rangers.  Because the Rangers are infantrymen that will be dependent upon an Army decision to ultimately integrate.  Total, as I referenced before, is approximately 15,497 positions based upon fiscal year 13 numbers.  Additionally, we have many enablers, 46 additional occupational specialties that are serving in SOCOM and require close coordination with the services before we can make a decision on those MOS’.

            Our analysis will focus on four independent, but mutually supporting efforts.  First, our subordinate command components are in the process of conducting a thorough review focusing on their organization, training, education, and leader development programs.  We are reviewing every single task in each of our entry-level qualification courses to ensure that they are decisively tied to an operational requirement.

            Second, our center for special operations research and study at our Joint Special Operations University is conducting multiple studies, but primarily focused on the social implications of integrating women at the team level.

            Third, we have commissioned RAND to study both the behavior and cultural aspects of integrating women into our formations that operate in that remote special operations environment.  We have also asked them to provide a non-biased third-party analysis of our qualification core standards.

            And, finally, we have also asked RAND to conduct a comprehensive survey of every single SOF operator in the SOCOM enterprise, similar to the study they conducted on DOD's behalf in preparation for the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell."

            And finally, I have personally discussed this initiative with Adm. McRaven, along with the vast majority of SOF leadership, and I can ensure you we are not predisposed to any particular course of action.  Once the studies are complete and all the facts and the data have been collected, the USSOCOM commander, in conjunction with the service chiefs, will make their recommendation to the secretary of defense.

            At this point, no decisions have been made.  And I'll state that again.  We haven't made any decisions whatsoever.  We're going to spend the next year collecting, analyzing data.  All these studies previously referenced will be due to us July 1, 2014.  We will then make our recommendation to the secretary of defense July 1, 2015, a year later, along the prescribed timeline.  Thank you.

            REAR ADMIRAL TONY KURTA:  Good afternoon.  Navy's plan is a continuation of our efforts over the last 19 years to steadily expand opportunities for women.  In 1994, we started assigning women to surface ships, and in the past two years, we have started assigning women officers to submarines.  We've also been assigning women to our coastal riverine forces for the past four years.

            While 88 percent of all of our billets are open to women, we are committed to do more.  Our plan continues and accelerates the steady march to equal professional opportunity.  The Navy will have no closed occupations, a very limited number of closed positions, and equal professional opportunity for females in every officer designator and every enlisted rating by 2016.

            Our specifics of our plan, we intend in July of 2013 to notify Congress of our intent to open the coastal riverine force small craft to female officers and enlisted.  Upon approval, there will be no restrictions to the assignment of females in the coastal riverine force.

            As coordinated with the Marine Corps, we intend to assign females to the ground combat element as positions are opened by the Marine Corps.  Navy personnel will adhere to Marine Corps occupational standards where applicable.

            As the general said and as coordinated with U.S. Special Operations Command, the Navy and Navy Special Warfare Command intend to follow SOCOM's timeline for the potential integration of female into special operations.

            The Navy has opened opportunity to women officers on all submarine types.  We will decide not later than March of 2015 whether, in addition to service on Virginia-class submarines, women officers will be assigned to the Los Angeles-class and the Seawolf-class submarines.

            As publicly announced in January of this year, Navy intends to assign enlisted women to the Virginia-class submarines.  A task force is currently working on the specifics of that plan and will present it to Navy leadership not later than March of 2015.  Women officers and enlisted currently serve on virtually every surface ship class in the Navy, and we will continue to expand opportunity as new ships and ships classes are commissioned.  We will decide not later than June of 2014 whether to expand assignment opportunity for our enlisted women to our frigates, our mine countermeasure ships, and our patrol craft.

            Throughout the entire process, our goal is to continue to ensure that senior women are assigned to units before assigning junior women in order to provide leadership, mentorship, and support.  This policy has served the Navy well for 19 years.  Thank you.

            BRIGADIER GENERAL GINA GROSSO:  Good afternoon.  The Air Force has been actively integrating women into non-traditional skills since 1972.  And today, less than 1 percent of all our positions -- active, guard and reserves -- are open to women.  This equates to approximately 4,700 positions in a total force of 506,000 people.

            All our closed positions are tied to special operations forces in whole or in part.  As Gen. Sacolick mentioned, special tactics, combat control, and special operations weather are positions solely controlled by USSOCOM, and as such, USSOCOM will make the call on these positions.  That's about 800 positions.

            Combat rescue, para-rescue, and tactical air command and control party have SOF and non-special ops missions, and the Air Force will open these positions in consultation with USSOCOM and the United States Army, because about 800 of these positions are -- serve with the Army in brigade-level and below positions.

            Our plan has three major tasks.  The first is to look at the policies and procedures that we have that prohibit women from these positions and start updating them so we're ready for a July 2015 implementation.  We are also validating all of our positions in the Air Force.  Because most of our -- the vast majority of our positions are open, every five years, we validate the tasks required for men and women to go into those positions, so we're doing 100 percent validation, and we are also relooking the seven -- the occupational standards for the seven closed skills for women, and we'll have those updated between May and July of 2015.

            We'll make a recommendation to the secretary of the Air Force at that point in consultation with USSOCOM and the United States Army.  And upon his or her approval, we hope to have -- start recruiting for these positions on Oct. 1, 2015.  Of course, that's after consultation with Congress, that 90-day window.  We expect we'll take about a year to recruit for these positions, so we're looking at Oct. 1, 2016 to start bringing women into these training pipelines.  These pipelines are very long training pipelines.  They're about 12 to 18 months, so we expect between Jan. 1 and June 1, of 2018 that we will be bringing women into these operational units.

            COL. WARREN:  All right.  Well, I'll take -- I'll call for questions.  So, Lita, you're first.

            Q:  Question for Gen. Sacolick.  I'm wondering if you can talk about what you may or may not have learned from the several years where you've women in the coalition support teams in Afghanistan, been working with special operators there, if there's any lessons learned from that as you start to go about this evaluation process.

            And you also mentioned several times the social hurdles, as well as -- social concerns, as well as physical.  And I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about what some of those social issues may be as you look ahead.

            And a quick question for the colonel.  Just you mentioned these five -- five proxy tests.  I was wondering if you could just give us some -- an example of what -- what those are that you're talking about.

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  First, I think you meant cultural support teams.  They've been in existence for...

            Q:  I’m sorry.

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  ... sure, less than two years.  There were some lessons learned.  Where we train them -- actually, the assessment selection and training took place at Fort Bragg, where we train our Special Forces soldiers.  And predominantly they were trained by civil affairs and psychological operation and Special Forces soldiers.  So those three qualification courses, by the way, two of which are already integrated, are all done in the same locations in many of the courses that attend are -- they tend together, so there are men and women already serving and sitting in the same courses.

            But women quite a bit -- quite frankly, I was encouraged by just the physical performance of some of the young girls that aspire to go into the cultural support teams.  They very well may provide a foundation for ultimate integration.  And in the second part of your question truly is -- I just want this process to work.  I don't know where it's going to be. 

            I hear the rank-and-file.  Their concerns are, you know, once again, that you got a 12-men ODA and an isolated case, how is that -- what are the implications there?  I'm less concerned with just standards in our courses.  I think they actually make sense.  They equate.  We're looking at them nevertheless, but they equate to an operational requirement.

            If I throw a 70-pound rucksack on a student in a qualification course or in Buds, it's because I anticipate he's going to have to carry that weight in combat.  But the concern, once again, is there are privacy issues, there's other issues that we -- there's health and welfare female operators in an austere environment, so there's all those things that we're concerned about, probably more so than the actual standards in our qualification courses.

            Q:  Right, so -- so the cultural ones you think maybe, as opposed to the -- looking at the physical pull-ups, pushups, things like that...

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  Exactly.

            Q:  ... carrying -- this is the cultural issues that you see as a requirement.

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  Culture, social behavior.  Those -- those aspects of ultimate -- of integration.

            COL. AYTES:  The proxy tests?  Yes, ma'am.  Those -- those proxy tests, as I said, we've got 335 of our primary MOS.’  And when we did the pull of all the physically demanding tasks in there, we came up with about 259 of them.  We needed to test out 400 male and 400 female Marines, but conceivably to do that much testing to have every Marine do 257 tasks, that's too much.

            What we've done is condense it down and boil it to five essential proxy tests.  One of the tests, for example, will be simulating lifting a tank round.  And this is a perfect example of a gender-neutral or a performance-based task standard.

            We're in a cramp compartment.  A tank gunner must reach over to the rack, lift that 55-pound shell from the rack, pull it out, flip it over, and insert it into the breach.  That's one of the tests that we're testing our Marines, both male and female, for this summer.

            Q:  Any other?

            COL. AYTES:  There's -- there are some clean and press.  There's deadlift.  There's the 155 round, which is our artillery round.  The tank round, as well as scaling a wall.

            Yes, ma'am?

            COL. WARREN:  Next?  Tony, you ready?

            Q:  I got one specific one for you, the special ops (OFF-MIC) in general, I think a lot of the public wants to know, in all this -- the talk of gender-neutral training for the laudable goal of bringing more women into closed positions, possibly will this mean a lower standard, though?  Can you address that in a gender-neutral lower standard?  How should the public view that?

            And then for the SOCOM representative, Gen. Sacolick, will JSOC's special mission units possibly be open to women commandos over the next several years as your research plays out?

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  If I could -- if I could, I'll just start with -- what this means is -- when we say gender-neutral, these are tasks requirements of that operational specialty, so whatever that -- that job or that position is, we have to make sure that we have the requirements of that task established, regardless of whether they're male or female, because the worst thing that we could do is change that standard for that position, whether it's even a medic on the battlefield (inaudible) or whether it's an infantryman.  Whatever you want to pick, you've got to be absolutely certain that that performance can be -- can be understood and then applied in a combat situation, because we don't want it set -- as already mentioned by one of my colleagues here -- this isn't to set anybody up for failure. 

            This is all about success, and we're calling it soldier 2020.  You'll notice it's soldier for 2020.  It's not male soldier or female soldier.  This scenario that we've been working on for years to identify to how to improve the force of the future.

            So, I mean -- so from the American public view, we're not changing standards, but we're going to clearly make sure we understand all those standards and they're related to a specific task that's required by that position.

            COL. AYTES:  As the general said, those are -- these are performance-based jobs -- performance-based tasks to accomplish the job, regardless of whether you're a male or a female.  Load the tank round has got to be one that is done by a male tank gunner or a female tank gunner.  We don't have different size weight rounds for them, and it's got to be done by everybody.

            We also review all of our standards every three years.  We review all of our training and -- training and readiness manuals, as well as our programs of instruction, to make sure we're pulling those lessons learned from -- from combat and from our doctrine and that we are germane and relevant still to make sure that we're doing the right thing.

            REAR ADM. KURTA:  Well, as you heard us say, we're going to follow the Marine Corps and Special Operations Command as they develop these standards, and we have every confidence that they'll be the correct standards.

            BRIG. GEN. GROSSO:  And I think -- yeah, I think very much the same.  I mean, we said we've had these positions open to women for a very long time.  As you can imagine, I think to get it sort of away from the combat, if you think about an aircraft maintainer, if you look at airplanes over time, they've become increasingly more and more sophisticated and much more computer-driven.

            So the skills that a maintainer may have needed in the 1970s and the strength is very different than the skills and the strength they might need in 2013 for an F-22.  And so what you want to understand is what -- how much -- how much does the toolbox weigh 25 years later?  And that's what we do every five years, so that we have the standards -- whether you're a male or female, we know if we put you in that occupation, you can do the task.

            Q:  And then for JSOC units?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  Our analysis will focus on the entirety of the SOCOM enterprise, inclusive of all assigned units.  How's that?

            Q:  Well, does that mean -- that means JSOC potentially...

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  Absolutely.

            Q:  Absolutely?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  Yes.

            Q:  Okay, thanks. 

            COL. WARREN:  So we'll go to David.

            Q:  So let me ask the three of you, since you sort of have the bulk of the excluded positions.  How do you determine what number of women in a given MOS gives you critical mass?  Because obviously you can't have just one woman who passes all the tests and then is the only women in that MOS.  So do you have notional numbers or percentages that -- how many women have to be able to qualify to these gender-neutral standards before you can open that MOS?

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  Let me answer, if I could, in two aspects.  One, I think, when you say critical mass, you have fields that have never been open to women before.  And when you make that initial assignment in there, that's part of our gender integrated study that's going on to look at all the aspects.  Whether it's two, four -- I can't tell you that today, but we're going to look at that closely.

            We have some lessons learned, going all the way back to the '70s when we initiated the Women's Army Corps and as we brought women into the first MOS’ outside of the Women's Army Corps.  So that'll be a very careful look, as we make those first initial assignments.

            But the second part of that is, once these MOS’ are open, just as they are today, we don't have specific goals and objectives, because a lot of this is propensity to recruit.  How many women we bring in every year in the military may drive some of the numbers that you have to assign.

            And then as leaderships develop and as women grow in these ranks, it's not just that you have a woman soldier or leader in that specific MOS.  It may be in a related MOS.  So maybe you have an engineer or you have a medic, but you have women in the formation, so there are other pieces that go to that.  So it's a little more -- if that answers the question -- a little more complicated than that, but we are going to study that for the initial assignment and then look at how we grow that over time.

            COL. AYTES:  We're looking -- we're looking at that also.  That's part of our analysis, sir.  But really, we're focused on the capabilities, the physical requirements that are there for the job.  We're focused on that first.

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I can't offer a number at this point.  We have a couple formations that are already integrated.  Civil affairs and psychological operations come to mind.  Women are underrepresented in those formations based upon their proportion to, you know, the Army.  But at this point, it'd be premature to offer a number.

            Q:  Is it conceivable that you could have a team with 11 men and one woman?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I believe so.  We're looking for smart, qualified operators.  You know, there's just -- there's a new dynamic.  I mean, the days of Rambo are over.  I mean, we're looking for young men that can speak and learn a foreign language and understand culture, that can work with indigenous populations and culturally attune manners.  I mean, just -- you know the defining characteristic of our operators are intellect.  And when people fail in the special forces qualification course, predominantly they fail because they're -- they're not doing their homework.

            Q:  (OFF-MIC) the days of Rambo are over.


            Earlier, you had said that the rank-and-file reaction was -- it seemed to say it was not necessarily positive. 

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  There's concerns.  And we all share those concerns.  I would -- I think the survey that we're going to produce will be telling.  I mean, more often than not, we listen to the -- who we hear is the -- more than vocal minority in our formations are filled with the quiet professionals, and they need to give them a venue.  They need to find out how they feel about integration at the team level.  I think that's going to be really important.

            I mean, ultimately, these young men have volunteered multiple times.  And we have a lot invested in them.  And they've got to embrace it.  I might add that sometimes we underestimate the capacity of our younger troops to embrace change, to embrace diversity, and I just want to provide them an opportunity to voice their concerns in this survey.

            COL. WARREN:  Jen?

            Q:  Gen. Sacolick, if I could just follow up, you seem to be expressing the most trepidation about this change because of the kind of units that you're representing.  Can you see in two years' time, three years' time that women will be in Rangers, in the Rangers, in the SEALs?  And why do you believe this is happening right now?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  The first of which, I -- we've got to let the process work.  And, I mean, we owe it to America.  We owe it to the young men and women who are listening to this press conference.  I have got to be the honest broker in this process, and we've got to let it work.  So I don't want to predispose anybody or this process to my personal opinions on the subject.  I just want to see what happens.  And so I really can't answer your question at this time.

            Q:  Have you had any problems with women being in these smaller combat -- commando units that have already been out in Afghanistan?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I don't think we have.  I mean, there's always going to be significant issues, no different than the problems we have with some of the men.  We've had some discipline problems, not many.  So far, I think it's been -- proven to be a huge success.  Frankly, we wanted to institutionalize the capability -- the cultural support team, so we are looking at expanding that and sustaining this.  And this all predates, you know, the current initiative we're talking about.  So it's a proven successful program that we intend to continue.

            Q:  Why is this happening, why now?

            MS. BEYLER:  Well, going back to where we were in January, so this has essentially been a three-year-long process.  The department did a review of women in service across the board, and then in February of 2012, we came forward and Secretary Panetta did away with the collocation rule, and we opened about 14,000 positions.

            And he directed the services that we continued forward for the next year, and then eventually leading to November, the Joint Chiefs unanimously came forward to the secretary of defense and said, okay, we've done everything that we can do and the time is right to do away with the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Assignment policy so we can get to these hard questions and start doing the work on the standards and the analysis that needs to be done.  So this is just the next logical step.

            COL. WARREN:  Anna?

            Q:  Gen. Sacolick, this one's for you, also.  When you -- you said you're more concerned, as Lita mentioned, with the physical -- with -- less concerned with physical standards, more concerned with the cultural, social and behavioral standards.  So as you look at these surveys that you're going to be implementing, you know, what can you -- what are you going to see that's really going to make you say, you know what, this isn't going to work?  I mean, if a lot of your operators, these quiet professionals are saying, "I don't know, I don't women beside.  It's going to be too tricky.  The privacy stuff is going to be tricky.  You know, I mean, it's going to be a pain.  It's not going to be as much fun or we're not going to like our jobs as much and we might leave."

            You know, is that -- is that going to be what it takes for you to pull the plug on this?  You know, what's going to -- what's going to stop you from doing it?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I think that's just one data point.  I mean, that's just -- we have multiple initiatives going on.  I've outlined all four of them.  So, once again, I don't want to, you know, continue to bang the drum on this process, but I want to let it work.  I think we owe it to everybody.

            When I talk about our standards, you know, the world's constantly changing, and we constantly review those standards so they're not antiquated.  I -- less than a year ago, I was a commander of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, and so I was tasked with, you know, civil affairs, psychological operations, and the special forces qualification course, and we entirely revised those standards based upon, you know, a post-Afghanistan, 21st  Century environment that I need to prepare these young men for.

            So that's why I can say with a little bit more confidence that I wasn't as concerned with the actual standards, more so with the social implications.  But I really just want this process to work.  You know, it'll just be an additional data point for the commander.

            COL. WARREN:  We'll go Chris and then Craig.

             Q:  Yeah, I guess this could be for anyone up there, but what happens if you do get a female candidate who passes all of the qualifications, but there are no other women who do?  Does she have -- would she be in a position where she would have to wait for other women to catch up to her before being allowed in some of these elite units?

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  I'll just talk in general terms, not specifically about a type of unit.  But I think the first step is the decision point, as you've gone through the gender integration status-- at least in the Army's case -- and you've gone through the occupational standard setting -- is to open the MOS.  You know, they're open now because (inaudible) but say, okay, we're good with this, we're moving forward.

            Once that happens, then -- then women go to the MOS and they pass the course.  They're in the MOS or they're in the skillset and they go forward.  So I think you have to look at it the other way.  It's not just that we have this sole person, this sole soldier that got through everything.  It's -- we're going to make that decision, and then it's open.  And if one -- one person raises their hand and comes forward, then since it's open, they go forward and they graduate, hopefully.

            Q:  Well, I guess that's my point.  After -- you know, as we saw with the -- the Marines, I mean, being open doesn't necessarily mean that you have women who will physically be able to complete some of these courses, but if and when you do, would she have to stand there with four to five other women?  Or if there is one woman who qualifies, would she be allowed in on her own?

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  I think I have to go back to what I just said.  You've got to make the decision that that military occupational specialty is going to continue forward.  Once you make that -- just like today, if one woman comes into a medic course, she goes forward into that medic course.  We don't stop and wait for her to get five more females to join her.  I mean, the bigger question is, is your occupational standards right?  Are the tasks right?  Are the cultural aspects all brought together to go forward?

            So I'm not trying to push away your question, but I think you're going to make a decision to open, and that decision is -- is solid, you go forward.  You don't hold back to different numbers.  There's a difference between starting where we are today versus starting in the future.

            Q:  I guess just -- not to belabor the point, but -- but, again, it just -- it seems like two arguments are being made.  On one hand, we want to open this, but, on the other hand, these are -- are units or MOS’ where women have never served before and we don't want to set them up to fail, and so we want to have some sort of structure.  And so, again, I go back to my point.  Do 10 women have to pass?  Or -- or can one woman enter one of these elite units?

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  Can't tell you the numbers today, but I can tell you, we opened up six new MOS’ last year in artillery and maintenance.  And over the course of the year, we enlisted 130 female soldiers.  And as those 130 female soldiers come into the course of the year based on when they graduate high school or other cases, we put them in groups and sent them forward.  They're not all going in 130 to one unit or six or four. 

            So, a lot it will depend on who enlists.  You have to come back to who enlists.  So, again, I'm not trying to put you off, but I think that's a premature decision here.  The more important decision is the task, the conditions and standards, and then once -- once we're going down -- we made the decision, unless we say it can't forward, we have to come back to the secretary of defense and ask for permission to close the MOS, you're going to have to go forward.  This is going to be about propensity to serve and who comes in the MOS.  And I'd be happy to take more of that offline with you afterwards if you want.

            COL. WARREN:  Craig?

            Q:  Gen. Sacolick, Craig Whitlock with the Post.  You know, I heard -- I hear the Army and the Marines talk about gender-neutral standards.  And I think most Americans would understand that, whether someone has the strength or physical dexterity to lift and spin a tank shell, something like that.  But I hear you talking a lot about behavioral, cultural, social reasons to consider.

            Are -- are those legitimate reasons to keep women out of jobs like this?  I thought the idea was to lift the exclusion, and you're talking about surveying special operators to gauge their feelings to see if they're okay with it.  Are the standards different for your guys than for the other services?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I'm not comfortable with the term “gender-neutral standards.”  We have standards.  And they equate to an operational requirement on a battlefield.  Our mission is different, so our standards are different.

            Q:  But you talk about behavioral, cultural, social factors being some of the possible obstacles.  Is that right?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  Right.  The one thing it goes to -- we don't deploy in large formations.  I mean, we send a 12-man team or even smaller into very austere, remote environments by themselves.  In many respects, they may be the only Americans serving in a particular country.  And so I think we have to -- you know, that complicates, you know, integration, and that's our concern.

            Q:  I guess, you know, are there reasons that women wouldn't be able to meet certain behavioral, social, cultural standards?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I'm actually more concerned with the men and their reaction to women in their formations, quite frankly.  But it's just too premature to answer that question definitively.

            Q:  Do they get a say in it, whether they're willing to accept women?

            MAJ. GEN. SACOLICK:  I think that's what the survey is -- is designed to do.  Ultimately, they have volunteered, they serve, and I would imagine they will do what they're told.  But we need to give them a venue to voice their opinion, and that's the whole purpose of the survey.

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  If I could just add on something. I think it fits for the Army in this perspective.  There's also the -- I think we've all mentioned that we're success-oriented here.  And you used the term, you know, to keep women out.  We're success-oriented.  These surveys in our gender integration study, which we'll share with everybody, is about identifying hurdles that you may not see.  We've got experience doing this in a lot of different times throughout history, and it's to how to make sure that those who enter -- especially those that are entered in the first time -- are most successful.

            And there are social and cultural -- we do this for men too; over time we constantly survey.  We've surveyed these first nine brigade combat teams, and we said, what's the feedback from the males that have never served with women before?  And we take that and we say, oh, okay, here's something we haven't thought about.  It might feed into education.  It might feed into training.  So it's -- again, it's about knocking down the barriers, but you have to understand, so it's constant surveying and constant feedback to identify problems, to overcome so we can set people up for success.  I think that's -- probably all of us are going to do that and share that.

            COL. WARREN:  So we'll do Stephanie and then one more after.

            Q:  For anyone who wants to answer, but particularly for you, we've been studying this for years, as you mentioned.  We've had surveys.  We've talked about this forever and ever and ever.  I think people are going to read the news today and see 2018, 2015.  Why does this take so long?  Why can't we get this done any sooner?  There are already women serving on the front lines.  They're already doing a lot of these things.

            I can understand that there's some particulars with certain units, but why are we looking at two, three, four years down the road this to happen? 

            MS. BEYLER:  Well, when the secretary and the chairman made the decision to rescind the rule in January, they -- they determined that responsible integration -- again, setting people up for success -- was going to take a period of time.  And so understanding that, that's why he made the decision in January and then told them you have until May to come back to me and tell me how you're going to execute this.

            But I think there is an understanding that review, validation of standards, the studies that they're talking about across all dimensions, not just physical, but exactly the behavioral, the social, the cultural, takes time to do.  And so, yes, some of the things we have, but I think there's an understanding that doing this right takes some time, which is why we have the interim milestones. 

            They want the standards reviewed and validated by September of 2015.  They want all studies completed, again, also by September of 2015 in order to lead to full implementation by Jan. 1, 2016.  So understanding what you're saying, I think the key is setting it up for success and making sure that they have time to do it right.

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  I would just add just two things.  You know, it takes time to enlist and take people -- so, for example, we're already through our 2013 enlistment.  We're halfway into middle year of January -- middle year of 2014.  We have people that are enlisting today, but we don't have school seats for them until almost nine months from now.  So you buy that time when you enlist people to begin with.  And the second thing is, I mentioned our approach is going to be integrated, and as well it's going to be incremental, as well as scientific.

            So as we make decisions, you'll see in our plan we have some occupational specialties that we'll move forward with earlier than other ones.  So it's not just we're all waiting until the very end.  We're going to do these over time.  So I think you have to look at the program in totality and then say, OK, there's an incremental approach here, and it's very logical.

            COL. WARREN:  Last question.

            Q:  For the Army and the Marine Corps, can I ask, do you envision a situation where you could open up a closed MOS, like infantry or armor, and allow women to come into that, but then continue to have some units remain all-male?  And essentially, if you have a small number of women, putting them into those career fields into some units, but having basically some infantry units which are coed and some infantry units which are all-male.  I mean, do you think that there is -- is that -- does policy allow for that type of situation without exemption?  And do you think that that would have some value?

            LT. GEN. BROMBERG:  I think we'll examine that.  And I think there's a couple of our allied countries that -- I could be wrong, but I think the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] does do that, where they only have certain units that they allow -- or as you said, coed, and a lot of that's based upon national demographics and what they need to do.

            So I think we'll look at all those things as we move forward, you know, the Army particularly and the reserve component, as well.  We have to consider every aspect of that.

            COL. AYTES:  Sir, it's a little bit premature to make that call right now.  We're also looking at some of the extensive work that other nations have done, as the Israelis among them, as well as the Australians and the Canadians, as well as the -- the U.K., who have taken many years to do what we're doing in a relatively short time.  We do want to make sure we do this thing the right way, and we are going to look at everything, but it's too premature to say where they would go exactly right now until we get our full depth and breadth of our analysis complete.

            COL. WARREN:  So our team has a follow-on mission, so we don't have time for stay-behind questions, so thank you very much.

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