DOD Official on Women in Combat: ‘Numbers May Be Very, Very Small Or None At All’

By Penny Starr | April 22, 2016 | 4:06pm EDT

Juliet Beyler, principal director, force

resiliency in the Office of the

Undersecretary of Defense for

Personnel & Readiness.

( Starr)

( – A Defense Department (DOD) official said on Friday that for the number of women who want to fill combat posts heretofore not open to them, and then being able to meet the standard set for those posts, the number who actually serve will be “very, very small or none at all.”

“There’s a full recognition that the numbers may be very, very small or none at all,” Juliet Beyler, principal director, force resiliency in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, said at a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

“And that’s what the secretary said – that equal opportunity does not mean equal participation,” Beyler said.

As one of the panelists at the discussion, Beyler was asked if the military had a quota for how many women would fill these newly available military posts.

Beyler said there are no quotas and that any post across all military branches requires meeting a certain standard, regardless of gender. Beyler said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s decision in December to open all military positions to women sparked a review of the standards required for each post.

Beyler said, “So that’s why when you look at Secretary Carter’s memo and he has his guiding principles, he specifically talks about one, right, the need to make sure that we have the right standards; that they’re occupationally specific; they’re current and they’re operationally relevant – because, again, that’s the core of the standard of everything that we do.

“That was why it was so important to review and validate the standards because now we have an ability to kind of definitively stand behind a standard that is unemotional, that we can explain and articulate, and it is what’s required to do the job,” Beyler said.

“Recognition also, right, is the number of women who are going to want to do these jobs is small and then the number of women that can meet the standard – beyond that – is even smaller,” Beyler said. “So there’s a full recognition that the numbers may be very, very small or none at all.

“And that’s what the Secretary said – so equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal participation,” Beyler said. “We recognize there may be, again, very small or maybe none.”

Beyler pointed out that in the 25 years since Canada “integrated” its military, women only fill about 1 percent of combat posts.

Beyler called that fact “informative” and repeated the expectation that this new military policy does not necessarily mean large numbers of women will sign up for or qualify for combat posts.

(AP photo.) 

When Carter announced the new policy, the Military Times reported that his decision would open up about 220,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of the entire active and reserve force, and that most of those jobs would be in the Army and Marine Corps infantry and armor units.

“At its core, the decision means that as of Jan. 2, female service members — both current and incoming recruits — will be allowed to serve in any military job for which they meet the gender-neutral performance standards and other requirements,” the article said.

"They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars, and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Carter said when making the announcement. “They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

"And even more importantly, our military will be better able to harness the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer,” Carter said.

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