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THE MILITARY: Some Amazing Gains
The U.S. military has moved ahead of industry in eliminating sex barriers. Of a total 2.1 million people in the armed forces, 91,000 are women; 4,600 are nonmedical officers, including two brigadier generals. Fully 92% of the job categories in the Army—everything except the infantry, artillery and other direct-combat roles—are open to them. So are all but the topmost chief-of-staff ranks. Young women like Commander Byerly can aspire to positions that older women officers never dreamed of—they came up when females in the services were circumscribed and largely segregated in separate corps. Now women are so fully integrated that the Navy WAVES and Air Force WAFs have been disbanded, and the days of the Army WACs are numbered.
Most of the women are in staff jobs, but the Air Force will soon begin a pilot-training program in which women will fly C-130 Hercules hospital or weather-reconnaissance planes and T-39 trainer jets. The Air Force has women in fatigues maintaining and repairing missiles, airplanes and weapons. The Army has women chaplains, helicopter pilots and tank drivers and 136 drill instructors. The Navy has anti-submarine warfare technicians, line handlers on tugboats, airplane welders, bulldozer operators and a deep-sea diver. All recruits go through rugged basic training, learning to shoot and strip rifles (just in case they ever have to in an emergency) and slog through mud, with full packs, to cadence-counting chants ("Standin' tall and lookin' good/ We ought to be in Hollywood . . .") The service academies are preparing for women in the classes that will be admitted next summer. West Point will take in about 100 women cadets, the Naval Academy 80 and the Air Force Academy 100. The women will wear handsomely cut uniforms, basically like the men's, except that the females will carry purses and wear knee-length skirts, as well as slacks.
Men in the services seem to be accepting the women easily enough. For a time, there was a preoccupation with shower and toilet arrangements, but the construction of a few doors, partitions and separate shower rooms has relaxed the apprehensions. The services do their best to assign married women to the same posts as their uniformed husbands. When that is impossible, the couple must make a choice. For one woman Navy ensign married to an Army captain, the choice is clear. If he is transferred to a landlocked base, she will stay with the Navy in Washington. Says she: "I joined the Navy before I married him, and that is my loyalty."
No longer must a pregnant woman leave the services. At military bases, some soldiers are finding themselves saluting pregnant officers. Now an expectant mother must apply for discharge or else