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The Navy's civilian leader announced Thursday that attack submarines will be integrated with female officers and enlisted, an expected move that begins the next round of the Silent Service's integration that started three years ago.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the first women to join Virginia-class attack subs have been chosen: They are newly commissioned female officers who will report to their subs in fiscal year 2015. "We also have a plan to include female enlisted sailors in this process," Mabus said in a statement.
Mabus' announcement comes the same day that the Pentagon said it planned to lift its policy excluding women from combat positions, a historic shift that potentially opens as many as 34,000 Navy jobs currently closed. These include billets in the riverine forces and Marine Corps units.
Mabus has overseen the integration of women into the sub force and made broadening their opportunities a centerpiece of his tenure.
"The Navy has a long history of inclusion and integration and I am proud we have achieved another important milestone," Mabus said.
The statement makes no mention of whether the Navy SEALs will open to women.
But many of the Navy's closed billets stem from berthing issues, not the combat exclusion rule, such as frigates and coastal patrol craft.