According to new plans endorsed by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and provided to Associated Press, the military is already recruiting women for combat jobs, including as Navy SEALs. The newest recruits could be serving as early as the fall.
Some of the services predict that only small numbers of women will volunteer or get through training courses, details of the plans show. The Marine Corps estimates 200 women a year will move into ground combat jobs. And U.S. Special Operations Command said it anticipates a "small number" of volunteers for its commando jobs.
The Navy is already collecting applications from female Navy SEAL candidates.
All of the services say they have made required changes to base bathrooms and other facilities to accommodate women, and they will monitor training, injury assessments, and possible sexual harassment or assault problems.
The transition will take up to three years to integrate women into all the combat jobs, say top Army and Marine Corps generals. "The Army intends to first assign female officers to jobs in the infantry and armor units, and then gradually bring in female enlisted soldiers. And it plans to also assign more than one woman in a unit."
Most of the male-only units are in the Army and Marine Corps. The Air Force and Navy only have a few units that exclude women.
The military says it plans to "carefully evaluate" recruits which includes new testing to make sure the recruits -- male or female -- has the ability meet the job requirements.