James Seeks Better Retention of Female Airmen

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James lauded the Air Force for giving women today the opportunity to serve throughout the force, but said more needs to be done. Speaking to reporters at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Nov. 17, she said, in particular, too many women who are middle-grade officers are leaving after having served for seven to 10 years. That number is twice the rate of men dropping out at the same point, she said. “We need better retention,” said James. She also said she wants to open up to women the seven career specialties still closed to them and have “neutral gender standards” for selecting individuals to undertake those duties adopted within 18 months. Those seven fields, all related to special operations, are: combat rescue officer, special tactics officer, special operations weather officer, combat controller enlisted airman, tactical air command and control enlisted airman, pararescue enlisted airman, and special operations weather enlisted airman. James was on the first stop of a tour of Pacific Air Force’s area of responsibility.