Army Approves 22 Women to Become Infantry and Armor Officers

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The U.S. Army has approved requests from 22 women to attempt to become 2nd lieutenants in infantry and armor units.

Thirteen women  will enter into the armor branch and nine will enter into the infantry branch in the coming weeks as commissioning and commencement ceremonies occur across the country, according to an April 15 Army press release.

All 22 women must complete the training requirements and standards before fully qualifying as infantry and armor officers, the release maintains.

The volunteers come from the Army's three traditional officer accession programs - Officer Candidate School, Reserve Officers' Training Corps and the United States Military Academy.

The announcement comes after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Congress on April 7 that about 44 female women preparing to graduate from the West Point and ROTC have volunteered to become infantry officers.

Milley told lawmakers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that the first principle in his plan to open all combat-arms jobs to women is grow female leaders in these units first.

Commissioning serves as the first step in the process to become a qualified Army officer. After commissioning, women selected to serve in infantry and armor will conduct branch-specific initial training for several months at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Once the branch-specific training is successfully completed, the officers will report to their first units of assignment qualified to assume duties as platoon leaders in armor or infantry units, according to the release.

The Army is also seeking applications from Army Competitive Category female officers from Year Groups 2014 and 2015 interested in a branch transfer into infantry or armor from their current duties. Those selected to serve are expected to be announced near the end of June.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reversed centuries of U.S. military tradition in December with the historic announcement that all military occupational specialties, including infantry, armor and special operations jobs, are now open to women.

Aside from attending the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Benning, some of the women will likely attend Ranger School, the Army's grueling infantry leadership course.

Capt. Kristen Griest, a 26-year-old military police officer from Connecticut, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, a 26-year-old AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot from Arizona, became the first two women in history to graduate Ranger School last April.

Maj. Lisa A. Jaster, a combat engineer with the U.S. Army Reserve, was a 37-year-old mother of two children when she became the third female to graduate Ranger School in October.

Milley said that the women who meet the standards and complete the training will begin being assigned to units sometime next year.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.