WASHINGTON, DC – In a surprise move sure to cause controversy in the military community, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has signed a memorandum authorizing men to join the United States Army’s Adjutant General’s Corps.
During a press conference regarding the latest change in policies dealing with gender equality in the armed forces, Panetta explained his decision.
“During this time of coming fiscal austerity, it is important that we are able to select the best personnel for the job, regardless of sex. I assure you, the standards we enforce for AG soldiers will not be relaxed in any way; our AG soldiers – whether male or female – will still need to be able to lift accordion folders above their heads, type at high speed, and deploy to the field at least once per enlistment period or every three years, whichever occurs first.”
While most active duty service members greeted the announcement with little fanfare, 92% of AG soldiers polled expressed vehement disapproval of the decision. Captain Susan Brooks, the S1 of a logistics battalion in Korea, said, “This is utter bullshit. They say that they aren’t going to be relaxing the standards, but can you seriously tell me that a male will be able to go line-by-line down a unit manning roster and ensure that all of the required information is correctly entered and in the proper format? They’ll be running to the gym or Ruby Tuesday’s after the first two hours.”
Master Sergeant Emily Robinson, a G1 Non-commissioned Officer in Charge based in Texas, agreed. “Some of these male NCOs have good troop leadership skills, but are you honestly telling me you can trust those Neanderthals to set up a division-level awards ceremony, prepare a script, and properly line up the personnel and awards so that the event goes flawlessly? Maybe if there were grenades involved.”
But males who aspire to join the AG Corps believe that they have what it takes to succeed in the formerly female-dominated branch. SGT Michael Westerly, a 13B artilleryman, has already put in paperwork to change his military occupational specialty to 42A (human resources specialist).
When asked about the backlash he may receive from his future co-workers, Westerly said, “I know a lot of females think that males can’t handle the type of work we’re required to do in an office environment, but I’m up to the task. Before I joined the Army, I temped as a secretary at an insurance agency for several months. I can type a good thirty or forty words a minute and I have a good basic knowledge of [Microsoft] Excel and Word. While I might not be as good at that stuff as the females, I will work longer and harder to make up for any shortfall in my production.”
This change in policy is only the latest that has fundamentally changed gender roles in the military. Earlier this year, Secretary Panetta decided to allow women into formerly male-only combat assignments and in 2010 he allowed men to serve in the Nurse Corps and Military Intelligence Corps.