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The ground combat exclusion policy of the United States Army dates back to 1994, when the Pentagon declared:

Service members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.[1]

This includes assignments to the Infantry, Special Forces and Armor.

The policy also excluded women being assigned to certain organizations based upon proximity to direct combat or "collocation" as the policy specifically refers to it.[2] According to the Army “collocation” occurs when, “the position or unit routinely physically locates and remains with a military unit assigned a doctrinal mission to routinely engage in direct combat." [3] If a support soldier lives and works in the same area as a combat soldier, then they are "collocated." How this affects assignments is that if a unit whose mission does not exclude females, for example a medical unit, is a subunit of a unit whose mission is that of direct combat, like an infantry unit, the medical unit will be closed to women because of collocation.

In 2001, a commission headed by Lester L. Lyles, a retired Air Force general, recommended eliminating the policy, calling it a hindrance to promotion.[4]

In February 2012, a review of pentagon policies resulted in the lifting of restrictions on 14,000 military positions. Still, women are ineligible to serve in 238,000 positions, about a fifth of the armed forces.[5]

Women serving in the U.S. military in the past have often seen combat regardless of the Combat Exclusion Policy. Due to a shortage of troops, women were temporarily attached to direct combat units slipping in through a bureaucratic loophole.[6] Although they were not supposed to be in positions that engaged in direct combat, thousands of women have engaged the enemy directly in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. As of the 24th of January in 2013 the Combat Exclusion Policy was lifted. This means both men and women are eligible to serve in front line combat and complete combat operations.[7]

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