WASHINGTON -- Integrating women into combat roles may require adjustments in recruiting efforts, the assignment process and other policies, said the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel. Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, Army G-1, spoke July 24, before the House Armed Services Committee, subcommittee on military personnel. Members of the subcommittee asked representatives from all four services and the Special Operations Command about plans for opening combat specialties that are currently closed to women. One lawmaker asked about the process for validation of physical standards, something the military is looking at now as it moves toward opening combat roles to women.
"All Army courses that award occupational specialties have associated physical requirements," Bromberg said.
A study currently underway will determine which tasks are scientifically necessary, how the tasks are performed, what skills are necessary to perform the tasks, how to train Soldiers to complete the tasks and when to test Soldiers for their ability to perform those tasks, Bromberg said. Legislators also wanted to know about the different cultural issues that may arise by moving women into roles currently filled only by men. As the integration process ensues, Bromberg said the Army will continue to monitor the reactions of males and females in units that are integrating. Lawmakers were also concerned about claims that physical standards were being lowered in order to allow women into military occupation specialties, known as MOSs. Bromberg said that after the validation process, there will be scientific data to back the raising or lowering of a standard.
"We'll just have to lay the facts out," he said. "The standard is a standard." Standards ultimately will become gender-neutral, Bromberg said, though training for those standards may be different for men and women. The Army isn't specifically looking to train men and women differently from each other, he said, but added it is looking at the best ways and different ways to train all Soldiers.
One lawmaker asked that if combat MOSs were open to women, would women potentially be forced into a combat MOS even if they did not want to see combat. "You volunteer to go into the military," Bromberg answered. "You select your MOS based on your qualifications and what's available in that particular area. Once you are in that MOS, you are going to be assigned wherever the Army needs you, regardless of your gender." "The Army of the future will require more mental agility, team work and resilience from all Soldiers," Bromberg said.