Women Face Delay in Joining Special Forces

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Women hoping to join U.S. Special Forces will face a temporary delay, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook announced Tuesday.

In a briefing with reporters, Cook said that Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, “requested and was granted a short extension in order to give Special Operations Command the time to collaborate thoroughly with the services.”

Cook said the decision was made because many of the actions needed to integrate women into Special Operations capabilities fall under the authority of the separate services of the U.S. military.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced on December 3 that all U.S. military combat positions would be opened up to women, and that a group chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva would oversee the implementation of that decision.

The decision allows women to fill about 220,000 jobs that are now limited to men — including infantry, armor, reconnaissance and eventually some Special Operations units.

Carter’s announcement followed public push-back from the Marine Corps, which had sought to restrict certain positions, such as infantry, machine gunner, fire support and reconnaissance roles, to men.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford had also advocated keeping some roles limited to men.

The first meeting of the implementation group is scheduled to take place this week, Cook said, with implementation of the program for both the services and Special Operations Command to begin no later than April 1.

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