Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said 99 percent of Air Force positions are already open to women and the service will now pursue opening the final 1 percent to them following the Pentagon leadership’s action on Thursday to expand the roles for women in combat. “2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Department of Defense allowing women to serve as combat pilots,” said Welsh in a Jan. 24 release. “By rescinding the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, we can pursue integrating women into the seven remaining Air Force career fields still closed, all associated with special operations,” he added. Those seven Air Force Specialty Codes are: 13DXA Combat Control Officer, 13DXB Combat Rescue/Special Tactics Officer, 15WXC Special Operations Weather Officer, 1C2XX Enlisted Combat Controller, 1C4XX Enlisted Tactical Air Command and Control, 1T2XX Enlisted Pararescue, and 1W0X2 Enlisted Special Operations Weather. These career fields comprise approximately 3,235 positions, according to the release. “The Air Force will partner with US Special Operations Command and the other services to review opening these positions in a deliberate, measured, and responsible way,” states the release. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants the process completed by Jan. 1, 2016.
As the Air Force pursues Agile Combat Employment, biocement could let the service build or expand airfields in days, without the heavy equipment involved in traditional construction.