June 19, 2015

Army opens 20,563 engineering positions to women

David Vergun
Courtesy of the U.S. Army Sapper Leaders Course
Soldiers helocast into Lake of the Ozarks during the U.S. Army Sapper Leaders Course at Osage Beach, Mo. Female enlisted Soldiers can now become combat engineers.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 19, 2015) — Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS 12B, Combat Engineer is now open to all female enlisted Soldiers of all components, according to Army Directive 2015-27.

The June 16 directive from Army Secretary John M. McHugh makes available 20,563 additional positions for women and opens the last of the 16 engineer MOSs, which were closed to women. The only positions not open to women in engineering are in certain special operations units.

Female officers were previously assigned as combat engineers “to provide a support network for junior female Soldiers and to offer advice to the unit’s male leadership,” said McHugh, who signed Army Directive 2014-16, June 17, 2014, making that happen.

Col. Linda Sheimo, chief of the Command Programs and Policy Division at the Directorate of Military Personnel Management, Army G-1, said the decision to open these positions to female Soldiers was made after U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command completed extensive validation studies.

“The Army remains on the cutting edge of determining scientifically-based occupational accessions standards for all military occupational specialties,” Sheimo said. “Validating these physical standards enhances our ability to predict an applicant’s ability to perform the critical, physically demanding tasks of MOSs.”

Women, as well as men, who do not meet the standards, will not be allowed into MOS 12B, or, for that matter, any other MOS, she emphasized. She explained that the standards are, and will remain, fair and transparent.

“The Army’s plan is to continue removing barriers to allow the best-qualified Soldiers to serve in any position, where they are capable of performing to standard,” Sheimo said. “This is about enhancing force capability and readiness while retaining the trust and confidence of the American people in our Army’s ability to defend the nation.”

The seven skill identifiers in MOS 12B are:

2C (Javelin Gunnery),
6B (Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course),
B6 (Combat Engineer Heavy Truck),
D3 (Bradley Fighting Vehicle Operations and Maintenance),
J3 (Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, or BIFV, System Master Gunner),
K9 (Combat Engineer Mine Detection Dog Handler), and
S4 (Sapper Leader). This directive applies to all three Army components.

Soldiers in MOS 12B are expected to be proficient at a wide-variety of tasks, including demolitions, route and mine clearing, constructing fighting positions, erecting fixed and floating bridges and operating heavy equipment.

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