The U.S. Army has approved the first 22 women the service will commission as infantry and armor officers in the coming weeks.
USA Today reported that the nearly two dozen women are close to completing their officer training either at West Point or in ROTC or Officer Candidate School. The service will commission them as second lieutenants upon their graduation.
In order to completely qualify for the roles, the women need to successfully finish the specialty schools and meet all physical requirements. Thirteen of the women will become armor officers, while nine others will commissioned as infantry officers.
The announcement is a telling development in the military’s effort to integrate women into the force’s combat roles. It comes in the wake of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s order that the military open up all combat roles to women this year.
In issuing the order, Carter rejected a request from the Marine commandant that some ground combat jobs remain closed to women. A Marine Corps study released last year found that female Marines were injured twice as often as their male counterparts, less accurate with infantry weapons, and less effective at removing injured troops from the battlefield.
Carter has defended his decision as an effort to select from the " largest pool of people" to fill combat roles.
The military has anticipated small numbers of women to put themselves up for combat roles at first.
In February, Carter encouraged women to "step forward" into the newly opened combat positions.