The Pentagon will announce Thursday that it will give female service members who are new mothers 12 weeks maternity leave.
The policy change, part of the Force of the Future initiative, doubles the current maternity leave offered to women in the Army and the Air Force. However, it cuts leave offered to female service members in the Navy and Marine Corps by six weeks.
As the Military Times reported, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus unilaterally increased maternity leave for the Navy and Marine Corps from six weeks to 18 weeks last July. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s announcement Thursday effectively directs Mabus to walk back that original increase.
Mabus argued last summer that the threefold increase in maternity leave would attract women to the Navy and Marine Corps. Following his announcement, both the Army and Air Force indicated that they would look into increasing maternity leave.
The Pentagon’s Force of the Future initiative will also expand paternity leave to 14 days and expand military families’ access to child care on military installations. The policy requires that Department of Defense-subsidized childcare development centers remain open 14 hours per day at minimum.