By Rebecca Kheel - 02/05/16 10:01 AM EST
A GOP congressman is pushing the Pentagon to provide more information into how it plans to integrate women into special operations forces.
“I appreciate the efforts that women have made to the Special Operations community," Rep. Joe WilsonJoe WilsonHouse GOP urges Obama to drop veto threat against defense bill Overnight Cybersecurity: Fight over feds' hacking powers moves to Congress New House caucus will help keep hackers out of cars MORE (R-S.C.), chairman of an Armed Services subpanel on emerging threats, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Still, he said the decision would have a "lasting impact" on the military.
Since Carter announced his decision late last year to open all combat jobs to women without exception, special operations forces have been of particular concern to some lawmakers.
A RAND Corp. study commissioned by Special Operations Command found most commandos were opposed to the prospect of having women in their specialty or unit. Of the survey’s respondents, 85.6 percent said they were either strongly or somewhat opposed to opening their specialty to women.
Also, 70.9 percent said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to opening their unit to women.
“A successful integration of women into SOF occupations will require transparency, effective leadership and communication, monitoring of progress and openness to innovation, flexibility and adaptability,” the study reads, using an abbreviation for special operations forces. “Even with all of the above, the process still is likely to face major challenges because of the depth and scope of opposition and concern among the force.”
In his letter, Wilson said he is confident women can be integrated into many of the jobs now open to them.
But he had questions on how Special Operations Command plans to integrate. Among the questions were how the command plans to maintain gender-neutral standards in training, how it will recruit and retain women, how much it will cost to change infrastructure to accommodate women and how the command will use the RAND study to help guide integration.
“The issue of women serving in all previously closed position is complex and multi-faceted, and the department’s decision must be carefully reviewed to evaluate its impact on military readiness to handle emerging threats,” he wrote. “Adequate congressional oversights can only be achieved by obtaining thorough, substantive and timely information from the Department of Defense and the military services.”