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ARLINGTON, Va. — Eight months into this fiscal year, the Pentagon has named the remaining 2004 appointees to the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, better known as DACOWITS, now filling all 13 advisory committee positions.

After a search that began last summer, the newest members to join the committee are Mary Nelson from Lafayette, Colo., and Ellen Sauerbrey from Baldwin, Md. Margaret Hoffman, from McLean, Va., joined the committee as a new member last winter.

DACOWITS does not make policy for the Pentagon, but instead gives recommendations to the Defense Secretary on issues affecting women in the military, such as charges of inadequate pay, shortfalls in child care or health care, promotion barriers, recruiting and retention issues, or a lack of mentoring, for example.

The committee had to fill vacancies because two members, Julie Hamre and Constance Horner, resigned last spring citing demanding professional schedules. It has taken until now to fill the slots, said Army Col. Denise Dailey, the military director for DACOWITS.

“The secretary takes the membership to his advisory committees very seriously, and it took us this long to find candidates to meet the criteria in the charter and who met his high standards,” she said.

DACOWITS is one of 63 federal advisory committees that provide advice and recommendations to Rumsfeld, she said.

The committee is made up of civilians picked for their experience in the military, either as members themselves or because a family member served, and their experience in women’s- and family-related work issues.

Currently led by retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter, the committee is made up of 11 women and two men.

DACOWITS faced elimination in 2002 when the Defense Department let its charter expire. Back then, conservative groups had pressed the Bush administration to retire the panel because they believed it to be irrelevant 51 years after its inception and because it was composed largely of feminists with no military experience or knowledge. But the Pentagon issued a new charter in March 2002.

Under the new charter, the membership was reduced from 36 members to 13. Though the chairperson typically serves a one-year term, Mutter is slated to serve at the helm for two years, Dailey said.

For more information about DACOWITS, visit the Web site at www.dtic.mil/dacowits.

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