The United States Navy announced yesterday that women are no longer banned from military submarines. The first women will begin serving on submarines in 2012. The change was announced immediately after a 30 day waiting period for Congress to object to the move expired. US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates informed Congress in February of the Navy's intended policy change.
Due to the lifting of some combat bans in 1993, women in the Navy have been able to serve on surface combat ships and combat aircrafts. Until now, they have not been not allowed to serve on submarines, in part due to living space issues. The Navy has long claimed the high cost of separate accommodations as a reason for the ban.
According to the Associated Press, the first women to serve on submarine posts will be officers on guided-missile attack and ballistic-missile submarines. These two types of subs will not require living space modifications to accommodate women officers. This limitation gives the Navy more time to determine how to modify the living arrangements for enlisted sailors on submarines to accommodate women.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, said, "knowing the great young women we have serving in the Navy, as a former commanding officer of a ship that had a mixed gender crew, to me it would be foolish to not take the great talent, the great confidence and intellect of the young women who serve in our Navy today and bring that into our submarine force," reported the Naval News Service. Currently, about 15 percent of active members of the US Navy are women.
US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey also told the US Senate in February that the ban on women in the Army's infantry will be reassessed, particularly due to women's demonstration of combat skill in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Media Resources: Associated Press 4/29/10; Naval News Service 4/29/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/24/10