FORT BENNING, Ga. — The first female noncommissioned officer graduated the Master Gunner Common Core Course June 27 at Patton Hall on Fort Benning.
Command Sgt. Maj. Roy Ward here from the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. A few weeks ago, we had the honor and pleasure of hosting Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport during a site visit to Fort Leonard Wood.
During his visit, he observed our Occupational Physical Assessment Test validation testing and received several updates regarding Initial Entry Training. As a result, he invited me to share a couple of highlights with you.
First, some background. Last fall, after diligent assessments, pilot programs and evaluation of performance criteria, the Secretary of the Army directed the integration of females into the 12B, combat engineer military occupational specialty, or MOS.
The ensuing efforts have been an integral part of the Army’s Soldier 2020 initiative, which focuses on applying standards to ensure the right person is selected for the right job to increase the readiness and capability of our forces.
Female Soldiers have trained at Fort Leonard Wood for decades in gender-integrated basic combat training, Advanced Individual Training, One Station Unit Training and in functional courses within the Engineer, Chemical, and Military Police Regiments.
When the 12B MOS opened to females, we leveraged our existing practices to integrate them into the already gender-integrated 12B/12C (Bridge Crewmember) OSUT. Thus far, our integration of additional females into the training has been extremely successful.
The first 12B female arrived at here on August 7, 2015, and, as of the first week of May, approximately 110 female 12Bs graduated from OSUT. Of note, males and females are generally passing 12B AIT graded tasks at the same rate, and the female graduation rate for the 12B MOS is very similar to the historical female graduation rate for the 12C MOS, which has been gender-integrated for over 20 years.
The female Soldiers who successfully completed 12B training departed for assignments in brigade engineer battalions located at forts Bliss, Bragg, Campbell, Carson, Hood, Lewis and Riley.
It is too early to assess the overall performance of female 12Bs at their first units of assignment; however, initial insights from unit leaders indicate they are doing very well. Some of these Soldiers are also pursuing additional skills. Nine female 12Bs graduated from Airborne School and four graduated from the Combat Engineer Heavy Track Course.
Another MSCoE highlight is that each of our training brigades – Engineer, Chemical, and Military Police – are implementing MOS-specific High Physical Demands Tasks as an AIT/OSUT graduation requirement.
And, like other IET sites across the Army, MSCoE is partnering with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine to collect data on the performance of Soldiers in training during the OPAT and HPDT to assist in further refining Army entry standards for all MOSs.
We are very proud of the progress our team has made and of their on-going efforts to ensure units receive the best-qualified Soldiers through continued support of the Soldier 2020 initiative. We look forward to seeing the many benefits that will result from matching the right person with the right job solely based on capability.
Learn more by checking out these videos:
Victory Starts Here…Victory Through Skill!
– CSM Ward
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 11, 2016) — The Army will begin training women for infantry and armor specialties later this year, according to its Gender Integration Implementation Plan released, March 10.
The plan will be executed in phases, first bringing female officers into combat arms this summer after they graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, ROTC or Officer Candidate School.
Enlisted recruits are expected to begin training in infantry and armor military occupational specialties beginning this fall. By the time they graduate Advanced Individual Training and report to their first combat units, female officers will already be there. It’s part of the Army’s “leader-first” approach to integrate the last 19 military occupational specialties that had been closed to women.
“We’re not going to turn our back on 50 percent of the population,” said Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy. “We are opening up every occupation to women. I think that’s pretty historic.”
The Army is currently in the first phase of its integration plan. It has developed gender-neutral standards and is educating the force about its implementation policies.
“An incremental and phased approach by leaders and Soldiers who understand and enforce gender-neutral standards will ensure successful integration of women across the breadth and depth of our formations,” said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley.
The Army has also been developing a new Occupational Physical Assessment Test. The OPAT will be administered to recruits beginning no later than June, according to Phase II of the plan.
OPAT includes physical performance tests developed by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. These tests will measure the ability of a recruit or cadet to perform physically demanding MOS tasks.
The new test will include a standing long jump, a dead lift, an interval run and a seated power throw to measure strength needed for tasks such as loading ammunition.
Phase II is the initiation of gender-neutral training. It begins April 1 as the Army starts enlisting women under the Delayed Entry Program for armor and infantry One-Station Unit Training or OSUT. Training won’t actually begin for the enlistees until fall and could be delayed for up to a year until they graduate high school.
Phase III involves assigning women to operational units. Again, female officers will be assigned to infantry and armor units first, to prepare the way for enlisted Soldiers to arrive at end of the year.
Phase IV is “Sustain and Optimize.” In this phase the Army achieves full operational capability and re-validates MOS screening requirements. Through talent management, it continues to select the best Soldiers for the right jobs, according to the plan.
Over the last four years, the Army has opened a substantial number of positions to female Soldiers. The Army opened 95,216 positions and nine occupations to women between May 2012 and October 2015, including combat engineer (12B) and artillery MOSs.
The first female cannon crew member, 13B, graduated this month from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, at the top of her class.
Now under the Army’s Gender Integration Implementation Plan, the final 19 MOSs will provide an additional 220,000 job opportunities to female Soldiers, though that number may change based on end strength reductions and ongoing force structure changes.
Following are the 19 MOSs within infantry, armor and Special Forces that will incrementally open to women:
— 11A (Infantry Officer)
— 11B (Infantryman)
— 11C (Indirect Fire Infantryman)
— 11Z (Infantry Senior Sergeant)
— 13F (Fire Support Specialist)
— 19D (Cavalry Scout)
— 19A (Armor, General)
— 19B (Armor)
— 19C (Cavalry)
— 19K (Armor Crewmember)
— 19Z (Armor Senior Sergeant)
— 18A (Special Forces Officer)
— 180A (Special Forces Warrant Officer)
— 18B (Special Forces Weapons Sergeant)
— 18C (Special Forces Engineer Sergeant)
— 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant)
— 18E (Special Forces Communications Sergeant)
— 18F (Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant)
— 18Z (Special Forces Senior Sergeant)
Photo credit: Pfc. Katherine Beatty gives tips to her teammate, who is holding four excess gunpowder bags that weren’t needed for the three-increment charge during live-fire training on the M119A3 howitzer, March 1, 2016. Beatty is the Army’s first woman 13B cannon crewmember to graduate from advanced individual training, which is taught by 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery. (U.S. Army photo by Cindy McIntyre, Fort Sill Tribune)
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (March 9, 2016) – Leaders from U.S. Army Forces Command and Training and Doctrine Command discussed Soldier 2020 during a senior leader summit panel discussion for the two commands here at Gen. George C. Marshall Hall.
FORT SILL, Okla. (March 10, 2016) — It’s been a long time coming: Full-scale gender integration is now a reality in today’s military. Fort Sill is making sure the integration is as smooth as possible.
Although Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made it official, Jan. 2, opening the last remaining ground combat roles to women has been a hot topic for several years in what is known as the Soldier 2020 initiative to develop readiness standards.
“The Army felt like we were doing a disservice to readiness by looking only at the male population in certain combat (military occupational specialties) MOSs,” said Field Artillery Proponent Office Sgt. Maj. Alexis Shelton. “(Women) are driving trucks in some of the most dangerous areas in the world,” he said of the types of jobs female Soldiers are already performing.
“It’s about readiness,” he emphasized. “It’s making sure we have the right people, from all genders.”
In anticipation of the elimination of the last barriers to women, the Army Medical Command’s Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine had to figure how to accommodate women in an equitable way, and also how to reduce male injuries and washouts in advanced individual training.
It began a rigorous series of tests designed to codify the types of High Physical Demand Tests necessary to be successful in a combat specialty such as 13B cannon crewman.
Fort Sill’s subject matter experts assisted in the study at Fort Carson, Colo., to “validate the task,” said Shelton.
ARIEM personnel were also at Fort Sill at the end of February working with Soldiers in basic combat training to help design the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) for potential recruits to determine what MOS they can and can’t be trained in.
Shelton said some males are suffering injuries during training, or can’t meet the standards. “That gets back to readiness,” he said.
Before enlisting, recruits are given the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery to measure cognitive or mental abilities, and must meet medical standards. However, there is no meaningful physical test that will help a potential Soldier be successful.
The OPAT would be the physical determinant of which MOS a recruit can be considered for, and is expected to be implemented by June 1. The four tests to measure lower-body strength, lower and upper body power, and aerobic fitness will be the standing long jump, the seated power throw, strength dead lift, and aerobic interval run.
“Once a Soldier takes the OPAT at the reception station, more than likely the Soldier would have no problem with the high physical demands (in AIT),” said Shelton. “We’ll have two assessments in place before a Soldier even signs the contract to be sure we have the right Soldier in the right MOS.”
All Soldiers in Fort Sill’s 13B cannon crewmember and 13F fire support specialist military occupational specialties need to pass specific HPDT tasks to graduate. Female Soldiers have been working with the Multiple Launch Rocket System and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System for several years. They do not need to pass the HPDT because their jobs are mostly automated and do not involve high physical demands.
An AIT Soldier with C Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, became the first female in the 13B MOS. Perhaps the hardest test was being able to move a total of 3,000 pounds of ammunition in 15 minutes, an action expected of a cannon crewmember in combat.
Pfc. Katherine Beatty of Inverness, Florida, had the advantage of being a power lifter with her Army infantryman husband, Charles, before enlisting. Beatty is a mother of a 2-year-old, and her success should lay to rest any doubts that women are capable of being part of a ground combat team. The next group of women scheduled for 13B training is due next month at Fort Sill.
Despite the standardization of HPDT and OPAT, there are still differences in the way men and women are scored on physical tests in basic combat training. “There’s a male and a female scale,” said Shelton. Forty sit-ups will earn a male a lower score than it does for a female, he said.
In addition to the physical requirements, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command requires “safe and secure” housing for women.
Capt. Justin Lopez, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery commander, which is the AIT unit for 13B, said the goal is to have females housed in the same building as the rest of their team. One wing of that barracks is being remodeled to accommodate them. TRADOC requires that female housing has fire safe doors that lock from the inside, as well as closed circuit TV cameras in hallways and common areas.
“With fire safe doors, if an incident were to occur and they felt unsafe, they could hit a button and these doors would lock and no one could get in,” said Lopez.
When Beatty arrived as an AIT trainee a few months earlier than the expected first group of 13B women, she was housed in a separate barracks with other females. However, the rest of her training was exactly the same as that of the men.
“I keep going back to readiness,” said Shelton. “Because that’s what it’s about.”