Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday outlined seven guidelines for commanders to follow as they deliberately and methodically integrate women into jobs previously closed to them. First, Carter said, “implementation must be pursued with the clear objective of improved force effectiveness.” Second, tasks and jobs must be assigned based on ability, not gender, and promotions must be based on “objective and validated standards.” Third, he said, “equal opportunity likely will not mean equal participation,” and there should be no quotas or perception of quotas. Fourth, he said, the studies by the services and US Special Operations Command showed that there are physical and other differences between men and women and that will be taken into account during implementation. Fifth, leaders must be clear that combat effectiveness comes first, particularly since surveys showed that some service members think integration will be pursued at the cost of combat effectiveness. Sixth, he said, the performance of small teams is as important “as individual performance.” And lastly, Carter acknowledged that not all countries share the perspective of the US and many of its allies about having integrated militaries, and the US must be prepared to deal with that. In a written statement, President Obama said opening all jobs to women will “make our military even stronger. … Together, we’re going to make sure our military remains the finest fighting force in the history of the world, worthy of all our patriots who serve—men and women.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.