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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard works to expand female inclusion opportunities

Female Inclusion ST PAUL, Minn- The Minnesota National Guard is working toward integrating females in previously all-male units state wide This spring female non-commissioned officers between the ranks of sergeant and sergeant first class are sitting down with their leadership to learn about the opportunity for them to be on the front lines of female inclusion

Military personnel office operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge 1st Sgt Hunter Hilten, is charged with ensuring female inclusion in the Minnesota National Guard

"The greatest thing about this is career diversity opportunities," said Hilten "The first females to go into these units will have a unique advantage in future promotions or assignment"

Doors officially opened to women in Army ranks on Jan 24, 2013, when then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta rescinded the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Assignment Restriction regarding the assignment of women The policy, which was put in place in 1994, barred women, regardless of their military occupational specialty, from being assigned to combat units below the brigade level

This change opened about 33,000 positions to females Army-wide To the Minnesota National Guard this meant the possibly of nearly 800 new positions for women

"The process is to identify the vacancies that could potentially be filled by females, then identify females who are interested," said Hilten "There will not be involuntary reassignments or transfers"

While the Minnesota National Guard had already been attaching women to all-male units as part of a pilot program, actually assigning women into those units required a deliberate process As positions opened in leadership positions, qualified women interested in paving the way were assigned Nearly 20 women are currently serving in these units as officers and non-commissioned officers

In January, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Richard Nash opened the lowest skill level positions in units previously all-male for the first time Now the organization is working to ensure each female serving is aware that inclusion is underway

This spring, with more than 70 vacancies now available to female Soldiers, females are being counseled one-on-one Volunteering to transfer to a previously all-male unit may provide a promotion opportunity or a chance for the Soldier to belong to a unit closer to their home While many females have yet to be counseled, so far one in four women are interested in this new opportunity

"The Minnesota National Guard is on course to meet Panetta's original deadline for full integration of women on Jan 1, 2016," said Hilten

February 19, 2015
by 1st Lt Melanie Nelson
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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