Back in 2013, the United Stated Army made a decision that would affect 18 women three years later. On June 18, 2013, the US Army made plans to integrate women into combat. These were the first steps of many to promoting equality.
According to the plans laid out by US Army, women were able “to apply to all military occupational specialties, and to all Army units, across the total force” by January 1, 2016. However, the integration would not happen all at once. There were specific instructions for how this integration would take place.
According to U.S. Army, in 2013, “some combat units at battalion level and below [were] still closed to women. One of the first steps the Army will take is to open those closed units.” By early 2014, women were able to take on positions and ranks in units previously closed to them, such as officers and junior soldiers.
The Army made plans to develop gender-neutral standards for its positions so that all soldiers, regardless of gender, could fairly and equally access jobs and positions. According to Major General Howard Bromberg, Army G-1, in 2013, these new standards still needed to meet the jobs’ requirements.
“The worst thing we could do is change that standard for that position. We have to be absolutely certain that performance can be understood and applied in combat situations. This isn’t to set anybody up for failure. This is all about success,” Bromberg said.
Oftentimes, these standards are more difficult for women to achieve, according to Colonel Kelly Kendrick, 198th Infantry Brigade commanding officer. “They carry the same load as everybody else. What we find is when you have a smaller, skinnier person – frail, I guess would be a word – those physical requirements are very difficult,” he said.
Because most of the female trainees who enter the training camp “are on the lower scale of height and weight,” they fail to meet the standards more often than male trainees, according to Military.com. That is what makes the graduation of the first 18 female soldiers from the Army’s Enlisted Infantry Training so incredible.
When four of those women graduated onto becoming privates and specialists at their graduation back in March, their female drill sergeant reminded them that they were making history. “This is a big deal,” she said to them.
The success of these 18 women can inspire many more women to break barriers and seek new positions in the US Army. According to Major General Jeffrey Snow, commander of Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, “When that word gets out there, I think that will resonate with the women of today.”
According to Military.com, “One of the male soldiers who spoke to the media said having female drill sergeants was not a big deal. ‘My mother is a strong woman and I have taken a lot of orders from her over the years,’ the soldier said.”
Yet, it is a big deal that these women have just graduated basic training and other women have climbed to the ranks of drill sergeants. It all means that the US Army is one step closer to equality, something to be strived for in all career fields.
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