Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey has urged female non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and officers to apply for combat jobs, as there is a notable lack of females ready to fill those positions.
“Currently, we have over 100 young women across America who have volunteered to join our ranks as cavalry scouts, armor crewmen, fire support specialists and infantrymen,” Dailey, the Army’s head non-commissioned officer, said in a memo Monday, according to Army Times. “… As young soldiers do, they will look for leadership and mentorship from their superiors. Unfortunately, we have not had a sufficient number of serving female soldiers and [noncommissioned officers] volunteer to transfer into these mentorship and leadership roles.”
For Dailey, the key problem is a lack of females in combat leadership positions. As part of the Army’s plan to integrate women into all-male combat units, the service has decided to move females into leadership positions in those units, so that they can then facilitate more junior females coming in.
The Army has approved an estimated 22 female officers for the role of second lieutenant in infantry and armor, but those officers will have to pass training first to qualify as infantry officers.
Part of the reason the Army hasn’t seen a lot of female NCOs transfer to combat roles is because transferring mid-career is an incredibly difficult challenge.
What the sergeant major is promoting sounds close to a quota system, though senior military officials have pledged repeatedly that no such system will come into play.
Other services are experiencing similar issues with females transitioning into combat arms roles.
On the Marine Corps side, female Marines trying out for combat roles have performed abysmally. Among female Marines, the failure rate is currently pegged at 85.7 percent, whereas the failure rate for male Marines trying out for the same standards is just 2.7 percent.
Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat roles to women in December, turning down the Marine Corps request for an exemption for some roles, but few female soldiers are interested in moving into combat jobs, frustrating the services.
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