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Guiding principles

Two years ago, Congress ordered a review of the Pentagon’s policies on women in combat, spurred by reports of heroism by female troops in Afghanistan and Iraq — wars that often featured no clearly defined front lines.

Of the more than 8,000 U.S. military personnel who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, at least 152 are women.

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, a group of civilians and active-duty and retired military members, recommended to President Obama in 2011 that he remove all job barriers for women.

The Dempsey memo states that the Pentagon’s “guiding principles” in the policy change are:

• Ensuring the success of U.S. troops by “preserving unit readiness, cohesion and morale.”

• Ensuring all service members are “given the opportunity to succeed and are set up for success with viable career paths.”

• Retaining the trust of the American people by “promoting policies that maintain the best quality and most qualified people.”

• Certifying performance standards, both physical and mental, for all military jobs.

• Ensuring that enough female leaders “are assigned to commands at the point of introduction to ensure success in the long run.”

The memo notes that the Defense Department may need to adjust its recruitments and assignments.

“This deliberate approach to reducing gender-based barriers to women’s service will provide the time necessary to institutionalize these important changes and to integrate women into occupational fields in a climate where they can succeed and flourish. Ultimately, we will ensure the success of our military forces and maintain the trust of the American people,” the memo states.