- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told cadets Wednesday that he’s optimistic all combat positions may be open to women by January, even though the services are still finishing testing for some jobs.

A female ROTC cadet asked Mr. Carter during a speech at Georgetown University whether all positions would be open to women by January — the deadline to either open all positions or ask for and receive a waiver from Congress that would let some positions remain male-only.

“That’s a very good question. I think most will, maybe all will, I don’t know and the reason I don’t know is the services are working through the practicality of some of the most difficult” military occupation specialties, Mr. Carter said.

Some combat jobs, like Riverine units or communications positions on special operations teams, are already open to women, but other jobs, like Army Rangers or Navy SEALs, remain closed as the services grapple with what sex-neutral standards should accompany certain jobs and whether women can meet them.

As part of the Army’s effort to answer these questions, the first women to attempt the elite Ranger School began the 62-day course on Monday. Gary Jones, a spokesman at Fort Benning, Georgia, said that of the 19 women who began, 16 remain. 

Three dropped out on the first day after failing the physical fitness test, which involves 49 push-ups in two minutes, 59 sit-ups in two months, a five-mile run in under 40 minutes and six chin-ups, the Military Times reported.

Mr. Carter said he believes the military should integrate women into combat to the maximum extent practical, but said that those who are wrestling with open certain jobs are doing so “in good faith.”

“I think for way too long I think we’ve underestimated how well we can do. I talked about us being a learning organization, we can learn this too so I’m pretty optimistic,” he said.

 

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