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The current U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) policy for assigning military women was issued in 1994, and the U.S. Army’s assignment policy dates to 1992. In the ensuing years, the U.S. Army has undergone significant technological and organizational transformation, which has changed how it organizes and fights. There is concern that, in the course of operations in Iraq, the Army has not been adhering to its own assignment policy, as there are several important and potentially problematic differences between the DoD and Army policies. For example, the DoD policy prohibits the assignment of women to units whose primary mission is direct combat, whereas the Army policy prohibits the assignment of women to units with a routine mission of direct combat, and their definitions of direct combat differ. The research finds that the Army is adhering to the DoD assignment policy but may not be complying with the separate Army assignment policy for women. Assessing the Assignment Policy for Army Women serves to inform DoD decisionmaking with regard to the clarity and appropriateness of the current DoD and Army assignment policies, especially given how units are operating in Iraq.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Is There a Shared Interpretation of the Assignment Policy for Army Women?

  • Chapter Three

    Is the Army Complying with the Assignment Policy?

  • Chapter Four

    Is the Assignment Policy Appropriate for Future Military Operations?

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Aspin 1994 Memorandum

  • Appendix B

    The Difference Between an Assignment Policy and an Employment Policy

  • Appendix C

    Opportunities Available to Army Women

  • Appendix D

    Army Women Deployed to Iraq

  • Appendix E

    Interviews with Senior Army, OSD, and JS Personnel and Members of Congress

  • Appendix F

    Interviews and Focus Groups with Personnel Recently Returned from Iraq

  • Appendix G

    Army Modularity, Asymmetric Threats, and Nonlinear Battlefields

  • Appendix H

    Female Army Recipients of the Combat Action Badge

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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