No Plans to Limit Women in Combat, General Says

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn recognizes Army Staff Sgt. Kendra Langsford for outstanding performance as an intelligence noncommissioned officer at Camp Lemonnier, Jan. 16, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn recognizes Army Staff Sgt. Kendra Langsford for outstanding performance as an intelligence noncommissioned officer at Camp Lemonnier, Jan. 16, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Despite rumors to the contrary, there's nothing in the works at the Defense Department to revise current rules opening combat roles to women who qualify, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn said Tuesday.

"There's been no conversation in the Pentagon about reviewing [or] revising the commitment that's been made to gender integration," Allyn said in testimony during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Allyn was responding to questions from Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, who said she had heard "rumblings that the [Trump] administration" with input from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford was "talking about reviewing, revising or appealing this policy" to have all military occupational specialties open to women.

Speier asked, "Do you know about any efforts to do that, and doesn't that kind of fly in the face of having the ready workforce we need if you're excluding women who are capable to engage in combat?"

Allyn, who spent much of his time at the hearing complaining that Army readiness is being affected by budget cuts, said the current state of readiness of all the services could not be maintained without having women able to fill roles that were previously closed to them.

"We're all achieving higher levels of readiness now that we are opening it up to 100 percent of the population of America being able to contribute," he said.

Mattis raised concerns among advocates of gender integration, and possibly gave some encouragement to critics, when he said at his Senate confirmation hearing last month that he might "look at it" if a field commander came to him with a perceived problem about having women on the front lines.

However, he said, "The standards are the standards and, when people meet the standards, then that's the end of the discussion on that."

"I have no plan to oppose women serving in any aspect in our military," Mattis said. "In 2003, I had hundreds of Marines who happened to be women, serving in my 23,000-person Marine division. I put them right into the front lines just like everyone else."

"If someone brings me a problem, I'll look at. But I'm not coming in looking for problems -- I'm looking for ways to get the department so it's at its most lethal stance."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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