Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci yesterday ordered an expansion of job opportunities for women in the Air Force and Marine Corps, including the assignment of female Marines to embassy guard duty.
Carlucci also ordered adoption of new "risk analysis" rules for determining if military jobs should be closed to women; ordered the Army to launch a new review of its male-only jobs, and called for new instruction courses for all military personnel aimed at stamping out sexual harassment.
In addition, he endorsed an earlier Navy decision to open roughly 9,900 new jobs to female sailors and officers.
David J. Armor, principal deputy assistant secretary for personnel, announced Carlucci's moves at a news conference as he released a special task force report on women in the military. Armor chaired the panel, which was formed in October after another advisory committee reported strong evidence of sexual harassment and abuse in the Navy and Marine Corps.
"The task force did find that sexual harassment is a problem and remains a problem in all the services," Armor said. "And we need to strengthen our mechanisms for dealing with it."
The defense secretary accepted a recommendation ordering the services to ensure that "backup reporting systems" are in place so that women who suffer harassment can pursue complaints when their local commander fails to respond.
In reviewing the current status of women in the military, the task force discovered that the four services were at times inconsistent in interpreting a congressional ban on women in combat jobs, Armor said.
For example, although the Marine Corps has the sole responsibility for protecting embassies overseas, similar security guard positions within the Army and Air Force have been opened to women but remain closed in the corps.
As a result, Carlucci decided to direct the corps to open the Marine Security Battalion to women, Armor said.
Armor stressed that Carlucci was leaving it to Gen. A.M. Gray, the commandant of the Marine Corps, to decide how many embassies around the world could be guarded by women. There are some embassies where the use of women guards might be inappropriate, either because of societal norms or because of a high risk of terrorism, Armor said.
Armor said Carlucci also had directed another 3,600 Air Force jobs opened to women. The Army had opened its heavy engineering units to women, he explained, while the Air Force had kept closed its so-called Red Horse and Mobile Aerial Port squadrons.