Queried by Marines at Camp Pendleton yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the review to consider how women can serve in combat roles is continuing.
The Pentagon announced in January 2013 that it would lift the ban on women serving in combat, and proceeded to open a formal review process to gain input from the different service branches.
“Well, as you know, we are — we, the Defense Department, are all of us in the process, each of the services, for working through the last very small group of positions that have been restricted to men only,” Hagel told the Marines. “And I was just talking with the commandant the other day about this. The Marines are working exactly in the direction they should be working, are working to get these directives and requirements met on time.”
“Each service is different, as you know. And requirements are different. Combat is a different world. I served a year in Vietnam in 1968 as an infantryman, and I know a little something about that business, your business. And so we want to make sure that as we work through all of this and we open up more opportunities for women in every service, in every MOS, that we give everybody as much assurance as we can that this will be successful, that they can be successful,” the Defense secretary continued.
“At the same time, everyone agrees that we’re not going to lower our standards, and whether it’s a male or a female in any occupation, no one wants to do that. And we are not doing that, and we won’t do that.”
Hagel stressed, though, that “there are ways that we can explore and we are and adjust to making sure that we continue to move forward and assure that these occupations that have been closed to women get opened up and get opened up on the timelines that are now in process.”