On January 24, 2013, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced its plan to completely eliminate the ground combat exclusion policy and begin the process of opening 238,000 direct ground combat positions to women. In doing so, the U.S. joins a small but growing list of countries that have fully integrated their military armed services.

To support the successful integration of women into the newly opened combat positions Women in International Security (WIIS) established the Combat Integration Initiative (CII).

The WIIS Combat Integration Initiative monitors the implementation process, focusing on five activities deemed necessary for effective implementation. These five areas are

1)  Transparency of the implementation process;

2) Communication of policy changes;

3) Establishing gender-neutral occupational standards;

4) Providing training to leaders addressing military culture, and

5) Mentoring/Gender Advising

As a monitor of these activities within the U.S. military branches, the CII:

  • Provides independent, expert advice and support to policymakers, including the Department of Defense, the U.S. Congress, and other interested parties, on the full integration of women in the military.
  • Publishes periodic policy briefs and reports.
  • Organizes quarterly workshops that bring together experts across a range of institutions with women and men in the military to review current practice in both the U.S. and abroad.
  • Supports and conducts independent research.

For more information on CII’s activities visit the below links:

Combat Integration Handbook: A Leader’s Guide to Success

Service Specific Information

Congressional Reports and Notifications

Research on Women in the Military

DOD Implementation Plans and Announcements

Combat Integration Initiative Events, Reports, Articles, and Briefings

Past Events

March 24, 2018- Trailblazer Workshop: Dr. Haring and Ms. Rico facilitated a day-long workshop in Killeen, Texas. The Trailblazers workshop provided infantry and armor women tools for successfully integrating into combat arms units.

April 5, 2017- Combat Integration Update Briefing:  In 2013, the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced the repeal of the rule that prohibited women from being assigned to combat jobs and combat units. The Services were directed to develop and complete integration implementation plans by the end of 2015. Military and civilian experts examined the progress made toward full integration and the challenges that remain.

April 25, 2016- The Continuum of Harm in the U.S. Armed Forces: Despite significant investments of time and money by the military to reduce interpersonal violence and educate service members on appropriate interpersonal behaviors; bias, harassment, and sexual assault continue to be a major problem in the armed forces. To solve the military sexual assault problem, it is critical that leaders, policymakers, and individuals understand the Continuum of Harm which connects a broad range of deeply rooted beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that lead to sexual violence. During this event, organizational and individual approaches to tackling these challenges will be examined. Participants include psychologists, practitioners, researchers and DOD officials who are working to end military sexual violence. This session is designed to increase awareness of the various forms of interpersonal violence and expand the discussion about preventing and eliminating these behaviors.

February 4, 2016- Operationalizing Combat Integration: Hosted by the Service Women’s Action Network, the conference featured academic experts, organizational change practitioners, and military professionals providing advice on how to successfully implement change. The conference was intended to educate past and present service members, the media, policymakers, and DOD civilians and military leaders responsible for implementing this change. Topics included the following: Managing Operational Change, Analysis, and Recommendations for the Service Implementation Plans, and Best Practices for Combat Units.

October 14, 2015- Analysis of the Marine Corps study by Ellen Haring and Megan MacKenzie: Read Ellen Haring and Megan MacKenzie’s analysis of the October 2015 Marine Corps study on the integration of women into combat occupations.

August 27, 2015- Challenging DoD’s Institutional Barriers: Female Rangers Lead the Way to Gender Integration: WIIS co-hosted a networking event with distinguished guests to discuss and reflect on the recent graduation of two women from the U.S. Army Ranger School. 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest received their Ranger tabs on August 21, 2015, becoming the first women ever to successfully complete the U.S. Army’s Ranger School at Fort Benning, GA. The graduation of two women from a grueling course that puts a premium on physical strength and endurance is a testament to women’s desire and ability to perform in combat roles.

July 12-14, 2015- Women In Combat: Lessons Learned from Cultural Support Teams: A discussion was held on the topic of Women in Combat with former members of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Cultural Support Teams (CSTs).  The CSTs consisted of small teams of U.S. servicewomen who were specially selected, trained, and deployed in support of special operations missions in Afghanistan. The women served with Ranger teams during direct action missions and on Special Forces teams during village stability operations. What did these teams do while supporting special operations forces? What challenges did they face as they integrated the all-male Special Forces and Ranger teams? How did their deployment help the mission in Afghanistan? What lessons can they share for integrating women into combat units? These questions and more were addressed at this event. Read the Latest Policy Briefing Report on CSTs here: Policy Brief – Women in Combat- CSTs.

April 27, 2015- Women in Combat: Where They Stand: Women in International Security, Alliance for National Defense, the Reserve Officer’s Association and No Exceptions hosted a half-day event to examine what has changed for US servicewomen since the 2013 rescission of the Department of Defense ground combat exclusion policy. Watch the C-SPAN coverage of the event here.

January 27, 2015- Combat Integration Update Anniversary Event: The focus of the event will be to inform the audience about where women stand with full integration. More details will be provided soon.

December 16, 2014- Army War College Electives Fair

December 15, 2014- Combat Integration Coalition Working Group Meeting: Held at the National Women’s Law Center (Duffy Campbell and Holl Hemphill). This inclusive meeting is held quarterly

December 11, 2014-Meeting of Service Academy Admissions Working Group: The objective of the meeting is to pressure DOD to increase the acceptance rate of women in the military academies

May 1, 2014- Women in Combat Units: The Experiences of Partner Nations: During a symposium on Women in Combat Units: The Experiences of Partner Nations on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine reiterated his strong support for the decision to lift the ban on women in combat. Kaine, along with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, sponsored the symposium, which included firsthand accounts from women who recently returned from serving in combat. Find more information about the event agenda and speakers here.

February 1, 2013- Women in Combat, Past Integration Efforts: Women who’ve served in the U.S. military discuss their experiences and challenges, and comment on the Pentagon recently lifting its ban on women in combat. They were joined by women who’ve served in Canadian and Norwegian military. The event was hosted by the Stockholm Institute and the Service Women’s Action Network.

February 1, 2013- Women Who Have Served in Combat: American women who served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan talked about their experiences and commented on the Pentagon’s recent lifting of the ban on women in combat. The event was hosted by the Stockholm Institute and the Service Women’s Action Network.

February 1, 2013- Women in Combat, Implications of Full Integration: Panelists talked about the implications of the removal of the ban on women in combat. Panelists included an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the Pentagon over the ban, a law professor, and a legislative assistant who gave the congressional perspective. The event was hosted by the Stockholm Institute and the Service Women’s Action Network.

February 1, 2013- Lifting Combat Restrictions for Women Panel: Panelists, including men and women who served in the military, talk about their experiences with integration, and give their recommendations on how best to proceed now that the restriction on women in combat has been removed.

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