Army's 1st female grunts, tankers should arrive at their units in 2017

The Army will start training women for combat arms jobs later this year, but the first group of female infantry, armor or special operations soldiers are not expected to arrive at their units until 2017 at the earliest.

The service will start bringing in female leaders from West Point, ROTC and Officer Candidate School this summer as the class of 2016 graduates, according to the Army’s implementation plan released Thursday. The first enlisted recruits are expected to start training in the fall.

“An incremental and phased approach by leaders and soldiers who understand and enforce gender-neutral standards will ensure successful integration of women across the breadth and depth of our formations,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in a statement.

Details of the Army’s plan to integrate women into its combat arms military occupational specialties, which were previously open only to men, were released Thursday after being approved by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

The Army is taking a “leader first” approach, with plans to put in place officers before assigning new enlisted soldiers to operational units.

Carter on Dec. 3 announced his decision to lift all gender-based restrictions on military service. The move paved the way for women to serve in the previously all-male infantry, armor and Special Forces fields and opened nearly 220,000 jobs across the military.

“We’re not going to turn our back on 50 percent of the population,” Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy said in a statement. “We are opening up every occupation to women. I think that’s pretty historic.”

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