Air Force to Pursue Opening Remaining Combat Positions to Women

January 30, 2013

With 99 percent of Air Force positions already open to women, the service now will pursue opening the final 1 percent, the Air Force chief of staff said yesterday.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced yesterday that the Defense Department is rescinding a policy that had barred military women from serving in certain direct-combat positions.

"2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Department of Defense allowing women to serve as combat pilots," Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said. "By rescinding the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, we can pursue integrating women into the seven remaining Air Force career fields still closed, all associated with special operations. We're focused on ensuring America's Air Force remains capable and ready with the best-qualified people serving where we need them."

The Air Force will partner with U.S. Special Operations Command and the other services to review opening these positions in a deliberate, measured and responsible way, officials said.

Positions now closed to women in the Air Force are combat control; combat rescue and special tactics; and special operations weather officer positions for commissioned officers, and the combat control, tactical air command and control, pararescue and special operations weather specialties for enlisted airmen. These career fields represent about 3,235 positions, officials said.

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