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Ash Carter Sounds Like He’s Already Come To A Decision On Women In Combat

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter will issue a decision on allowing women in ground combat roles by Jan. 1, but on some accounts, it sounds like his mind is already made up.

Carter said Tuesday in front of a group of U.S. troops in Sicily that excluding half the population from ground combat roles is “crazy,” The Associated Press reports.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has until the end of October to pass along his review to Carter regarding recommendations from the services on opening or closing combat jobs to women, according to a recent memo. In that memo, Carter stated he’s committed to removing unnecessary barriers to service and cautioned military leaders regarding public spats, saying it would not be “helpful or prudent.” This means that Navy and Marine Corps leadership will have to air dirty laundry in private—at least if they follow Carter’s guidance on the matter.

Former Marine commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford was the only service leader to submit an exemption request to keep several combat roles in the Marine Corps male-only. Curiously, Dunford is now Joint Chiefs chairman, putting him in the strange position of issuing a recommendation based on his own submission. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus sent over Dunford’s conclusions, but was also sure to add that he didn’t agree.

Navy Rear Adm. Brian Losey came to a somewhat different conclusion. He argued that integrating women into combat roles will likely not increase combat effectiveness, but regardless, allowing women the opportunity to try seems the correct route. The Navy SEALs, Losey argued, should be able to withstand the inevitable pressure to lower standards. (RELATED: Admiral: SEALs Should Open Up To Women, But There Will Be Pressure To Lower Standards)

While Carter reiterated in front of the troops that he intends to review the recommendations from all the services thoroughly, he borrowed the same stance used to argue in favor of allowing transgenders to serve openly in the military, namely that it’s about individual performance, rather than about membership in a specific class of people.

“You have to recruit from the American population. Half the American population is female,” Carter said at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily. “So I’d be crazy not to be, so to speak, fishing in that pond for qualified service members.”

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