SAN DIEGO — Women can now be assigned to the 267 combat positions in the Coastal Riverine Force that were previously closed to them, the Navy announced Friday.
The move follows the January 2013 removal of the policy that excluded women from combat jobs.
Nine enlisted women have already completed the training and been awarded their Navy enlisted classifications for the riverine jobs, but had to wait until Congressional notification was complete before they could deploy with their squadron or be assigned as crewmembers, Navy officials said in a written release.
All nine women were administratively assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron 2, Delta Company, 1st Platoon, which is based in Portsmouth, Va. The squadron will be the first to assign women to riverine boats, the Navy said, and it is scheduled to deploy this summer.
“We consistently strive to ensure all sailors and Marines, regardless of gender, have a path toward a successful military career,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a written statement. “This not only makes us better warfighters, but it ensures our Navy and Marine Corps remains the finest expeditionary fighting force in the world.”
The only jobs that remain closed to women in the Navy are within the special warfare community, and Navy officials said they continue to work with Special Operations Command on that.
In January, Mabus told Stars and Stripes that he believes the Navy and Marine Corps must have the right standards for combat positions, but that anyone who can meet those standards — male or female — should be allowed to do the job.
“When I look out [at the fleet], I see sailors. I don’t see male sailors and female sailors,” he said, noting that “the big news about women going on submarines was that there was no news. A lot of times the anticipation is worse than [the reality].”
Still, many Marine Corps combat jobs remain closed to women, and Marines have been vocal about their concerns about adding women to the infantry. One of their biggest concerns is that the Marine Corps will lower standards to allow more women to meet them, but Commandant Gen. James Amos addressed that fear in a troop talk last month in Afghanistan.
“We’re not lowering our standards,” Amos said. “Repeat after me: We are not lowering our standards.”