LATHAM, N.Y. (1/25/13) - Women will be able to fill officer and noncommissioned officer (sergeant) positions in the New York Army National Guard's four combat battalions under a proposal announced Thursday by the Department of Defense and the Army to change the policy excluding women from ground combat units.
The changes announced will allow female officers and noncommissioned officers to serve in up to 350 positions which only male soldiers are currently authorized to fill. Selections of eligible female soldiers will begin as early as May.
The change will involve the Headquarters Troop of the 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry, located at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station; the Headquarters Companies of the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry and the 1st Battalion 258th Field Artillery in New York City; and the Headquarters Company of the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry in Utica.
The units are elements of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Syracuse, which just completed deploying 1,750 soldiers to Kuwait and Afghanistan. The 27th IBCT is one of nine Army National Guard brigades that will begin integrating women into battalion headquarters elements as part of this test program.
These include positions as medics, intelligence analysts, human resources specialists and staff officer jobs, such as battalion logistics, intelligence, personnel, chemical warfare, signal or fire support officers.
"I'm confident female soldiers are fully capable of performing critical skills in combat units," said Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York.
"Our female soldiers have distinguished themselves in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, working side-by-side with their male counterparts. This change will open new opportunities for our female noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers and enable the New York Army National Guard to fill positions with the best qualified individual whether a male or female soldier," Murphy said.
Since 1994 the Army's policy has been to exclude female soldiers from infantry, armor (tank and reconnaissance units) and special forces elements because these units are likely to engage in direct combat with the enemy.
While women have been attached to these units from other types of Army units, and have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have not been assigned to these units at the battalion (400 to 600 troops) level or below.
There are 1,657 women in the New York Army National Guard: 159 officers, 23 warrant officers and 1,475 enlisted women – about 16 percent of the authorized total New York Army National Guard strength of 10,009.
Five-hundred-ninety currently serving New York Army National Guard women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and 26 of these women have been awarded the combat action badge, noting that they have come under enemy fire. Another 13 women have earned the award and are no longer serving.
The positions now open to women are in the enlisted grades of sergeant, staff sergeant and sergeant first class. Female officers will be able to fill positions open to second and first lieutenants and captains. The jobs are in the headquarters elements of the battalion.
Jobs in the line companies are not affected by this test.
Women already serve throughout the ranks in logistics, signal, military police and aviation and other units identified as combat support and combat service support elements.
Female soldiers will be identified for these assignments based on their military occupational specialty, experience and professional development needs. Women currently in 27th Infantry Brigade Combat team units will be considered first for these jobs. Female soldiers can transfer from other states to fill these jobs as well.
The jobs now open to women in the battalion headquarters are:
• Human Resources Specialist (MOS 42A)
• Chemical Operations Specialist (MOS 74D)
• Unit Supply Specialist (MOS 92Y)
• Intelligence Analyst (MOS 35F)
• Medical Specialist (MOS 68W)
• Signal Support Specialist ( MOS 25U)
• Personnel Officer ( MOS 42B)
• Chaplain (MOS 56A)
• Chemical Officer (MOS 74A)
• Fire Support Officer (MOS 13A)
• Logistics Officer (MOS 90A)
• Battalion Surgeon (MOS 62B)
• Intelligence Officer (MOS 35D)
• Medical Service Corps Officer (MOS 70B)
• Signal Officer MOS (25A)
• Physicians Assistant (MOS 65D)
The 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry, the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry and the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry have all seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery has deployed two of its batteries.
The 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and saw heavy fighting in the Iraqi city of Samara in 2004. The battalion just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in 2012.
The 1st Battalion 69th Infantry deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and saw action in Baghdad, clearing the Baghdad Airport Road known as Route Irish of insurgents. The battalion also deployed soldiers and companies to Afghanistan in 2008 and 2012.
The 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 where its elements performed a variety of security missions.The 1st Battalion 258th Field Artillery deployed two batteries of soldiers to Iraq in 2003 to serve in a security capacity and to train the Iraqi Army.