Lifting of female combat ban a multi-part process

The lift of the ban could open upward of 236,000 positions for female enlisters.

The January announcement that lifted a decades-long combat ban for women sent shock waves across the nation’s armed forces.

Although the announcement garnered enormous national attention, the removal of the ban, which formally dates back to 1994, has local effects on Main Campus. Specifically in the basement of Ritter Hall, which Temple’s female ROTC cadets call home.

For these students, many of whom will serve in some capacity after graduation, the ban signals a departure from the traditional military rhetoric. It could open up as many as 236,000 new positions to female enlisters after an analysis process is completed.

[blockquote who=”Lt. Col. James Castelli” what=”Professor of Military Science”] There’s an anxiety and an unknown that comes with the analysis.[/blockquote]

Lifting the ban is a two-part process, which many people don’t understand, said Lt. Col. James Castelli, professor of military science. While the immediate ban has been lifted, the Pentagon announcement requires each armed services branch to conduct an extensive analysis of positions that were previously closed to women members. While many of those positions will be opened, he said, some may still be closed to servicewomen.

“It’s important to understand that it’s not an immediate lifting of the ban…It’s starting analysis to determine which qualifications are required for each of these [236,000] positions,” Castelli said.

While the 1994 legislation restricted certain positions to females and required special permission for them to hold them, the new initiative will open those positions to females and require special permission for the position to be closed to female applicants. The process is “dizzying,” Castelli said, but he hopes it will lead to a more transparent and open process for female Army members.

“There’s an excitement of positions being open,” he said. “But there’s an anxiety and an unknown that comes with the analysis.”

Female ROTC cadets have felt this anxiety, Castelli said, and are well aware of the long process ahead. While the immediate result sounds good, Castelli said they know that there is still a long road of analysis head.

“There’s a mix of reactions from the female cadets,” Castelli said. “While they understand that the Army wants to reduce restrictions for female soldiers, they also understand that there’s going to be challenges associated with the changes.”

Although the decision may not directly affect many of Temple’s female cadets, Castelli said the implications of the decision are wide-reaching.

“[The decision] says a great deal about the U.S. Military and the entire Department of Defense…the U.S. Military, including the Army, has a high value of women’s role in the military, and women are a tremendous asset to the military,” he said. “Women are an asset that the Army and the military has to capitalize on, there’s so much that women have to offer that, by opening up a lot of these 236,000 positions, we’re improving the tools that we have to accomplish our mission.”

Ali Watkins can be reached at or on Twitter @AliMarieWatkins.

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