The U.S. Army on Friday announced it has approved the first 22 women to be commissioned as infantry and armor officers after new rules issued last month opened all combat roles to female service members.
The move is a major milestone on the road to fully integrating women into combat jobs. The Army is taking a leadership first position by first placing female soldiers in leadership roles in combat roles that were not previously open to them, then allowing those women to train and mentor female enlisted combat soldiers.
The 22 women are near completion of their officer training and will be commissioned as second lieutenants in coming weeks, USA Today reported.
The women will need to complete specialty training programs successfully and meet the physical requirements before they can be fully qualified for the jobs.
The 22 women are currently in West Point, ROTC or Officer Candidate School and will be commissioned as officers when they graduate, USA Today reported. Thirteen will enter the armor field and nine will be commissioned as infantry.
It is not clear how many enlisted women will be interested in taking on combat roles in the infantry.
The military expects only a small number of women to volunteer for the jobs. The Marine Corps said about 200 women a year would likely join newly opened ground combat jobs and the Army predictions are similar, though numbers could grow as more women enter the fields and pave the way for others.