Rescinding the Direct Combat Rule for Women


Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

I want to address some misperceptions about the decision to rescind the direct combat rule for women. Some fear that this decision will lower standards in our military. That is simply not the case. The services will carefully examine current standards to ensure we have them right, taking into consideration lessons learned from a decade of war and changes in equipment, tactics and technology. We will study each closed occupational field or unit to determine where women are able to serve.

Let me be clear: The standards will be gender-neutral — the same for men and women. This assessment will take time, and the Joint Chiefs and I are committed to making sure that this is done correctly.

As we develop and take the steps necessary to implement Joint Force 2020, the Joint Chiefs are unanimous in their judgment that the time has come to remove unnecessary barriers to service based on gender alone. This is about using the talent and skills of women in the military in order to make our military even better than it is today.

Related Links:
Gen. Dempsey Talks About the Direct Combat Exclusion Rule on Facebook
Memo: Elimination of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule
Transcript: Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey Speak to Pentagon Press Corps 24 Jan.
AFPS: Defense Department Expands Women’s Combat Role
Video: Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett Responds to Lifting the 1994 Combat Exclusion Policy

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29 Responses to Rescinding the Direct Combat Rule for Women

  1. Michael S. Morris says:

    Right here is our concern with it, no one will answer directly, we have witnessed time and time again, the willingness of government to sell out for the sake of political correctness! Gender neutral, or neutering? Not with the fate of my son, or grandchildren!

  2. Ben says:

    The enemies of this nation will relentlessly strive in the fight against our way of life. They follow no rules and seek only to destroy the very freedom we enjoy. So it is vital that we do not lower our standards as a profession just so we can be inclusive. If anything, our training and physical requirements should be more difficult than they are. The ability to close with and destroy the enemy is the foundation of what we do when the nation needs our defense. I support the decision to eliminate the gender ban, I also strongly encourage our leaders to ensure our training is not compromised for convenience. Once the call to arms is made, there is no easy way to turn back.

  3. leslie says:

    Mother and mother in law of two combat marines who have together 10 tours. It is not just the issue of lowering standards. These men have been through so much in the last 10 years, as have their wives in sacrificing for the country. Did you really consult them. They have enough challenges leading men in combat.

  4. By making standards gender neutral, will this include having one PT Test and scoring model for all genders? Example being a female in the Army was bragging on Facebook about her 300 PFT score and “that is a 316 for those who beleive in soldiers excelling” while it was only a 243 on the male scale. This gender inequality means women have more promotion points for substandard wwork

    • Starstripes22 says:

      I am a women in the army, and I know what you mean still. I DO NOT think that that woman should be bragging on Facebook, that is just not appropriate. However you do have a point about the PFT score, I do agree with you that there should be a line or a standard scale. Do tell me if I am wrong with this interpretation.

  5. Ian says:

    As the husband of a Canadian Military Member, it is good to see the U.S. providing equal opportunities for the women willing, and more than able, to stand side by side with the men. There will always be dinosaurs within the male dominated Armed Services, and they won’t disappear over night. All we can hope for is Strong Leaders at every level to show support and equality. Leaders are not Gender Specific and in truth, women generally have to work harder and with less support from those around them.

  6. rmewife says:

    As a woman, will I now have to fill out a draft card and potentially leave my children to go to war bc certain women want everything to be equal and fair?

    • Rodney Eslinger says:

      Single dads or last males in a family line were already except from draft (along with a list of other things) so I would assume if you had children you would not be called upon. But I also would assume that if women are now combatants then yes selective service cards at 18yr till 25 for all. Heck if you are a guy and you haven’t filled one out at 18yr old you can’t fill for college loans.

  7. Dee Wright says:

    Do people read? The SECOND SENTENCE says they’re not lowering standards. So why are people all “OMG WE CAN’T LOWER OUR STANDARDS”?

    Also, for everyone whinging about “did they consult the troops”, just … what? When the hell does military leadership consult the troops to see if they “like” something or not before they implement it? That’s just asinine. Either leaders are actual leaders – in which case they can lead troops of any gender – or they’re not, in which case they need to step down from leadership positions.

  8. Samuel Jack says:

    I know not for fact but the way I feel, I think that there is a different standard does exists
    just by who gives the tests. The PT standard was different for woman than men.

  9. Chris says:

    It would only make sense that if women are going to be considered equal for all MOS’s in the military, then they will also qualify for the draft. Equal is Equal, right?

  10. Jdm307 says:

    It seems clear that the Army leadership does not enjoy the trust of the majority of its members. As a member of SOCOM we employ female SMs in all types of rolls and functions in all types of conditions; however I have not met or talked to anyone with 15 plus years in service that believes the Army will do the right thing with respect to standards during this implementation period. Maybe they will prove the skeptics wrong, it’s just that no one i’ve talked to who’s been in the military very long believes they will; this very dynamic points to a much larger perhaps more pressing problem to solve than the gender neutrality issue. At any rate I can’t wait to meet the best of these female SMs who make the cut, my hats off to them!

  11. Remsy Munib says:

    WAKE THE HELL UP PEOPLE!!!!. Many other nations have total military intergration as in women and men on the battlefield which by the way today is either a mile down the road or at the next city block in a urban setting. It took years for the Military to accept women as soldiers they were called WACS for the Army and WAVES for the Navy. The time has come to face this.. And accept it!! The command doesn’t ask you if you like this or that cause if they did thousands of Soldiers no matter the branch would be able to tell off their branches that they don’t feel comfortable about going to places where people are shooting other people. That’s what ARMY stands for PEOPLE fighting a WAR!.

  12. GLondon says:

    General Dempsey,

    You appear to have your head as far up your a$$ as Gen. Westmoreland (thought he could “kill” his way to victory) in an Asian Country…DUH! Not happenin’…Along with the other Flags who should have resigned rather than follow the War Criminals Johnson and McNamara…

    And Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (who thought it would be a great idea to let the Iraqis fly armed choppers) so they could kill all the revolutionaries we left hanging in the dirt. And, oh… BTW… SOMEONE should have had to sign a surrender document, preferably S. Hussein…No, and NO!

    And, Oh let me think…Oh, Yeah: General Tommy Franks (I just let them “melt” off the Battlefield…) Because they had taken their uniforms off and ran away in their pajamas. Had I been George W. Bush, I would have broken that idiot back to Lt. and sent him to Leavenworth for a decade or two…

    Those bums who “melted” off the Battlefield came back to take their place after the OTHER idiot, General (Ambassador) Bremer (I should say Viceroy Bremer)…(yeah, General…go look it up…) decided to disband the Iraqi army, Police, etc. and left them no choice than to fight the Americans in the pay of the Saudis…

    What is it, when four stars get on your shoulders your damn brains fly out of your nose???

    Many of you flag officers are a shame, just a shame.

    Whatever political butt you’re kissing, you are dead (and I mean dead) wrong. I can witness for you that the vast majority of Military Females have no hope whatsoever of performing to the standards of a field soldier, simply because Mother Nature didn’t intend them to do so, EVER.

    Moronic social experimenters like you have no place in a policy-making role at all. You are either a liar bigtime, or incompetent to the degree that I for one wouldn’t follow you to the ice cream shop. let alone into the Middle East.

    And for you Feminazis out there, Yep…Big YEP…your little butts would be drafted, but placed in support or Intel roles (unless, of course, you can pass THE SAME APFT as the men, no changes whatsoever. If you can, I’ll walk into Combat with you anyday. If NOT, you belong in the rear WITH THE GEAR. Not that I have one thing against women, I love them…even the nasty, overbearing beachy ones (well, most of them…) But I will not put even more of my life on the line going into a firefight with a 115 lb. woman next to me. The WAF, WACs and WAVES worked wonderfully…women can do many jobs much better than men, releasing many more men to do the dirty, unspeakable things I myself have had to do. An “equality” argument is absurd in this context, as it is in any context whatsoever. Men and women ARE NOT EQUAL IN ANY RESPECT WHATSOEVER….get off the stupidity bandwagon PLEASE.

    General, your pathetic logic is skewered in the beginning of your second paragraph: “The Standards will be Gender neutral?” Are you smoking dope? Standard(s)? Neutral???? Are you kidding me??? There is no Gender neutrality AT ALL!!! The two are forever Unequal and will be so until the end of humanity. How can standards be neutral if there are two standards? Two sexes?

    Your entire posture on this issue is total horse droppings, and as a Combat pilot and groundpounder as well, I totally resent your position on this. This kind of thinking loses lives wholesale…(maybe you forgot what a fun thing combat (and contact) is really like…(I’d guess you have never been under fire, but if you have…you should be ashamed of yourself)… I’d be willing to debate you…any time, any place…( but what would really be more satisfying would be 5 minutes in the parking lot…I promise you, you’d never forget it.

    Shouldn’t you be retired by now??? God almighty, what a jerk.

    No regards whatsoever,


    • starstripes22 says:

      You should be happy that there is someone who is interesting in our country. There is no reason for you to be bad mouthing the General. DO you think that you could have done a better job? With this economy, this infrastructure, this world and its issues? Telling this to YOUR GENERAL is outrageous he could have saved your life without even thinking twice about it. I am not biassed as a woman with combat under my belt, but I do not think that these points and curses are appropriate. Your behavior is just downright RUDE for someone who has sacrificed a lot for the good of our country. Please do not down talk the General, you do not KNOW him. Thank You.

  13. Rodney Eslinger says:

    Does this mean Selective Service applications will be required for women at 18 years of age as well now?

    • starstripes22 says:

      Yes, it will. However there will not be discrimination among genders, race, nationality, or religion. This really is up to the woman serving.

      • politicalcynic says:

        Not too bright, are you? Women are currently NOT required to register. Point me to ANY change of law now requiring them to register-or ANY feminist organization that is pushing for the amendment of the existing law. Anywhere…

  14. Concerned says:

    Sorry, my concern is for the men and women that will be out there in the fields. Has anyone given thought of the fact that men and women are made differently? That is (at least in most cases) human nature for men to be attracted to women and women attracted to men? That this could cause sexual tensions instead of the attention at hand? That it will be a natural instinct for a man to try to protect the women, therefore not able to concentrate on his command? Hope all you liberals out there know what you are getting into. This will lower the standards as I see it. And at this time do you really think we need to be exhausting our funds and service military personnel assessing how to properly do this? That should tell you the story rite there! It’s not a good idea! God Bless you

  15. CW4(R) Wade Chapple says:

    Did you, sir, really send this message to your subordinate leadership? If so, you, Panetta, and others are spineless, self serving, and underserving of your posts. So your message here really is, “we are going to make this social experiement of women in combat roles succeed so lower your standards to make my boss’ (Obama) desires come to fruition.” With all that you and your less than esteemed generals have done of late to make a laughing stock of our military, I’m surprised you can even look yourself in the mirror and actually respect what you see. Why not say something to the effect of, “we will allow women in combat roles as long as we do not have to lower existing standards for them to qualify nor will we make special accommodations.” No sir, you simply came out of Panetas’ office on your knees and said, “yes sir, whatever you say, sir!”

    “If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high?” Gen. Dempsey told reporters Thursday. “Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”

  16. RA says:

    A woman in a combat unit is an absurdity. First, why on God green earth would we want to subject our female population to direct ground combat is beyond me. Second, Idon’t think women can do it. Third, there is not a majority or even a real minority of women who desire to be in combat arms. Fourth, the current feminist women in America and our civilian leadership who by the way an overwhelming majority have never served in the military nor been on the business end of an enemy tank, artillery barrage or AK-47 at close and intimate range or taken the life of another human or lived in a combat zone for days on end don’t get what it takes or what it means or what it really is to be in real combat — to seek out 24/7 an enemy and close with and kill them. So lifting the ban on women serving in combat units is wrong, bad policy
    and a mistake however;

    If the Sec Def who never served in combat what’s to lift the ban on our women
    being subjective to direct combat because we currently have a society of
    cowardly, lazy, physically and mentally unfit and self-serving young men who
    are scared to serve their country then there is no need for any kind of long
    term study what he must do is to immediately throw them into the pile like all
    and any soldiers we know the standards, requirements etc… so let’s just get on with it and see what happens. Here is what needs to be immediately implemented:

    1. Immediately, all women 18-25 are required sign up for selective service.

    2. Immediately,women will no longer have the option to opt out or be exempt from select MOS’s they will like men have to go where the needs of the each military branch requires manning (Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force).

    3. Immediately, the military physical height, weight and physical training and performancerequirements will go to a single standard the current Male standard for all
    soldiers regardless of gender.

    4. Immediately,women serving in combat units will not be afforded any special physical arrangements, compensations or logistical considerations over and above or
    different from males serving in the same type units.

    5. Pregnancies. A female soldier becoming pregnant while serving in the military has an immediate adverse impact on the effectiveness of the unit assigned. Immediately the unit is most often down a man and must now adjust to compensate for that preventable non-combat loss – most female soldiers knowing that are getting ready to deploy get pregnant to get out of going or get pregnant in zone to get out. Further In a combat zone within a combat unit where each individual has a specific job as a team member essential to the capability of the unit’s effectiveness each relying on the
    other it directly impacts that unit’s ability to survive and win on the battlefield. While not every unit fights fully manned the loss of combat power, especially where it is preventable, must be avoided.

    So what is the solution?

    a. Immediately,women assigned to combat units are required to sign a waiver that they do not intend to get pregnant and will take all and every precaution to ensure against pregnancy while in the service and understand that they are subject to UCMJ or immediate separation from the service if they become pregnant. In reality such
    a waiver should be required for all women while they serve if it would affect
    their ability to fully perform in their primary MOS in combat.


    b. Immediately, men assigned to combat units will be afforded the same special considerations, compensations or held to specific regulations of that service afforded to a pregnant female soldier when the male spouse or girlfriend become
    pregnant. For example, if a male spouse or girlfriend becomes pregnant their duties are to be reduced and redeployed back to home station from the field or a combat zone if under the same conditions that’s is what would occur with a pregnant female soldier. Inreality such a policy should be extended to all males regardless of military
    occupation specialty fair and equal right!

  17. Martin Kittirdge says:

    OH don’t worry, just give all those idiots in Washington time to get wind of not one single female passing the criteria – any criteria and you will watch the standards fall off the damn charts!! Come hell or high water the women WILL pass and the esprit de corps that all these hard chargers had will fall off just as fast!

  18. anonymous says:

    Saying a woman can’t do it or isn’t willing to is pretty idiotic. Preventing anyone from serving or from being in direct combat however qualified they are is obvious sexism. If a woman wants to go into the military and be involved in combat, it’s her choice, not anyone else’s. Men aren’t the only ones who should have that choice. Acting like every man is the same and every woman is the same is ignorant just the same. There are many women who are stronger and more qualified than a man. It’s really just another part of male superiority. It’s always assumed a man will be better at anything and when they aren’t good, it’s some anomalous instance, whereas it’s always assumed a woman will be worse and when any bad performance from a woman is spotted, it just intensifies that point. But most people don’t see that bias nor do they see the legitimacy in being more objective rather than blindly placing people into categories based on sex. It seems to me like most men think their sex is the only one that should actually be respected or given any right to having their abilities examined, like they have the monopoly on every valuable ability here. I’m sure that makes them feel really good, but someone needs to make them see themselves and others more objectively and realistically.
    Maybe men should be banned from offering advice to anyone, from counseling or psychiatry or psychology. They’re just gonna lower the standards

    • politicalcynic says:

      I will accept you believe in equality when you: (a) rescind your misandrist attacks againt “all men” in general; and (b) outright get feminist organizations to support selective service registration for women.

      I imagine I’ll be waiting a long time….

  19. joel says:

    I think every women has the right to enter combat as long as she is fully aware of the consequences.


  20. joel says:


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