Navy Sec Signals Intent To Let Women Be Marine Infantry, Special Ops

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said he plans to open Marine infantry to women, but confirmed that physical standards will remain the same.

The deadline for the services to seek exemptions keeping women out of certain military occupational specialties is fast approaching, Navy Times reports. The clock is ticking, as the deadline is set at Oct. 1. If certain services want to restrict specific job fields or assignments, they must submit exemption requests to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Although Marine officials have not officially decided either way, electing to keep the cards close, Mabus seems intent on allowing women in all billets, so long as they can meet the standards. In order for an exemption request to go through, Mabus has to sign it, and it doesn’t seem that he’s ready or willing.

Out of all the services, some believed the Marine Corps would buck the trend and attempt to seek exemptions, but the latest news from Mabus means that view may be mistaken.

“That’s still my call, and I’ve been very public,” Mabus told Navy Times in an interview Tuesday. “I do not see a reason for an exemption.”

Mabus also does not intend to seek an exemption for special operations specialties, though Meghann Myers of Navy Times notes that U.S. Special Operations Command will have to give final approval.

As recently as July, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford refused to give a clear answer to the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing for the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a few weeks, Dunford will send over his recommendations to Mabus. Those recommendations will come from Dunfod, not incoming Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

The latest announcement follows on the heels of word from the Navy’s top admiral that the service wants to open up the Navy SEALs to women, though no timeline was immediately available. (RELATED: Top Admiral: Elite Navy SEALs Will Open Up To Women)

Without any positive action from Mabus, restrictions on women in combat roles will expire on January 1, 2016, as the final conclusion of a proposal forwarded by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in 2012.

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