- 15% of active-duty service members;
- 18% of National Guard and reserves;
- 10% of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans; and
- 10% of those who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of war.
Women may not serve in units that engage an enemy on the ground with weapons, are exposed to hostile fire, and have a high probability of direct physical contact with the personnel of a hostile force.
DOD and the Services should eliminate the “combat exclusion policies” for women, including the removal of barriers and inconsistencies, to create a level playing field for all qualified servicemembers. The Commission recommends a time-phased approach:
- Women in career fields/specialties currently open to them should be immediately able to be assigned to any unit that requires that career field/specialty, consistent with the current operational environment.
- The DOD and the Services should take deliberate steps in a phased approach to open additional career fields and units involved in “direct ground combat” to qualified women.
- DOD and the Services should report to Congress the process and timeline for removing barriers that inhibit women from achieving senior leadership positions.
- an acknowledgement of changed battlefield conditions and the disconnect between the reality of women's combat experience and the policy;
- the recognition that the lack of formal combat experience prevents women from achieving promotion to certain officer grades and in certain operational career fields;
- the results of new research that debunks the idea that allowing women to serve in combat would hamper mission readiness, diminish military capabilities, or undermine unit cohesion; and
- the obvious point that armed forces leadership should be able to bring all available talent to bear on the challenges facing our military.