US Army approves female officers for ground combat

Washington, April 16 (IANS) The US Army has approved the first female officers for ground combat missions, following new rules that open all military combat positions to women.

The 22 women have almost finished their officer training and will also complete training in specialty schools to enter either the armour branch or infantry branch, Voice of America News reported.

Previously, women had been barred from joining frontline combat roles in the US military, including the infantry.

An Army statement on Friday said the women must complete the remaining training and physical requirements before they can qualify as combat officers.

In December 2015, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter announced the military would open all occupations to women this year, saying America’s all-volunteer fighting force cannot afford to ignore half of the population in the 21st century that requires “drawing strength from the broadest possible pool”, including women.

He said that decisions about tasks and jobs throughout the armed forces will be made on ability not gender, and that equal opportunity will not necessarily mean equal participation.

Carter said physical abilities will be taken into account for certain jobs and that international realities will also have to be considered regarding certain missions.

Women in the US have been inching their way toward combat roles since the mid-1970s, when they first became eligible to attend the military service academies and enlist in the US armed forces.

Until this year, women were only prohibited from combat jobs, about 10 percent of military occupations.

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