Surface Navy Joins the Nation in Celebrating Women’s History Month
March is dedicated to commemorating the proud and brave women who have made a difference in the nation and their service in the U.S. Navy.
Women have made indispensable contributions to our national defense since the Revolutionary War, but it was in 1908 that women began to serve as official members in the U.S. Navy. The ‘Sacred Twenty’ was a group of female nurses who, during World War I, were the first female members to formally serve in the Navy representing the Nurse Corps.
Today, women make up about 18 percent of the Navy and there are more than 68,000 women who are currently serving as active and reserve-force personnel.
Women make numerous contributions to the Navy’s mission and Fleet operations; there are currently 40 active and Reserve flag officers, one Fleet Master Chief, one Force Master Chief, 48 Command Master Chiefs, and four Command Senior Chiefs leading from the front.
In the Surface Warfare community, opportunities in recruiting and retaining both enlisted and commissioned officers continues to grow each year. Women continue to influence, impact, and make history in the Navy today with their spirited and courageous efforts, following the example of the women who paved the way before them. In 2013, many Navy leadership positions were filled for the first time by women.
On July 1, 2014, Adm. Michelle Howard – a Surface Warfare Officer– made naval history becoming the first female and first African American to become a 4-star admiral and be the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
On March 10, 2016, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced approval of the implementation plans developed by each of America’s military services and U.S. special operations forces to integrate women in previously closed combat jobs.
“When I announced my decision back in December to open all career fields to qualified women, I emphasized that the implementation of this change must be handled the right way, because the combat effectiveness of the world’s finest fighting force is paramount,” said Secretary Carter in a released statement. “Having reviewed their exceptionally thorough work, I am pleased all of the services developed plans that will effectively carry out this change and make us even better in the future.”
Women have shown great courage, strength, and sacrifice over the years, and through service and leadership, they have been and continue to be an important part of the Navy’s history and its future.