Despite multiple studies showing mix-gender combat units perform poorer than all-male units, and rebuffing attempts by the Marine Corps to exclude women from certain front-line combat jobs, Obama appointed Defense Secretary Ash Carter will order the military to open all combat jobs to women.
Carter was expected to announce the change on Thursday, according to a senior defense official, who was not authorized to discuss the change publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Carter is giving the armed services until Jan. 1 to submit plans to make the historic change.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Marine Corps commandant, had argued that the Marines should be allowed to keep women out of certain front-line combat jobs, citing studies showing that mixed-gender units aren’t as capable as all-male units.
Carter’s decision was a rejection of that.
Only the Marine Corps sought any exceptions in removing the long-held ban on allowing women to serve in dangerous combat jobs. The Army, Navy and Air Force have moved steadily toward allowing women to serve in all posts, and only the most risky jobs remain closed.
The senior defense official said all the services will have to begin putting plans in place by April 1.
Carter had given Dunford until the end of October to forward his review of the services’ recommendations on which jobs, if any, should remain closed to women. As Marine commandant, Dunford was the only service chief to recommend that some front-line combat jobs stay male-only, according to several U.S. officials.
Carter had pledged to thoroughly review the recommendations, particularly those of the Marine Corps, but said he generally believes that any qualified candidate should be allowed to compete for jobs. But the senior defense official said that while Carter recognizes there may be difficulties in opening the jobs to women, he has made his decision and all the services will follow it.
The Associated Press contributed to this article