US allows women to join Navy SEALS, Army rangers
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 09:40
Washington: Women in the US will be able to join the Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and other specialised combat outfits under plans approved by the Pentagon to open up thousands of frontline jobs which were out of their reach till now.

The Pentagon on Tuesday said it would allow women to join the elite Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and other specialised combat outfits from 2016.

"The days of Rambo are over," Major General Bennet Sacolick, head of force development for Special Operations Command, told Pentagon reporters at a news conference.

"This is just the next logical step," said Juliet Beyler, director of the Defence Department's Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management.

"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," she said.

This year, Beyler said, the services and Socom have worked diligently to plan two lines of effort aimed at integrating women: currently open occupations that were restricted: for example, administrative clerk in a tank battalion or truck driver in an artillery battery; and currently closed occupations that require review and validation of occupational standards: for example, infantry, armour and combat engineer.

However, 'Concerned Women for America' argued that the task of the military is to protect the country and that the national security must not be jeopardised in order to meet an equal opportunity quota.

"National security must not be jeopardised in order to meet an equal opportunity quota. The intent to lift the long-standing ban on women serving in direct combat is further proof that this administration simply does not care about the issues about which the majority of women care," said Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation's largest public policy women's organisation.

"Once again, their interest on women issues is driven by special interest groups," Nance said.

"Individuals should be judged based on their capabilities, not their gender," House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith said in a statement Tuesday.

"For years, women have proven that if given the chance they are just as capable as men," he said.

A long-term advocate for women in combat, Loretta Sanchez called the move a "long-overdue step" to bring equality into the armed forces.

US Senator John McCain supported the move to expand the eligibility of women to serve in the most elite echelons of the nation's armed forces, including in combat roles.

"I look forward to reviewing the details of the Pentagon's announced initiative in this area," he said.


First Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 09:40

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