Mattis backs women in combat, NATO alliance
WASHINGTON — Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis told the Senate on Thursday that he has no plans to review policies allowing women to serve in combat roles if he is confirmed as defense secretary.
Mattis, 66, was grilled by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a confirmation hearing about his past comments that questioned whether integrated military service could be successful. The retired general said Thursday that he would follow the Pentagon policy changes made in December 2015 that allow women into combat occupational specialties, after years of front-line duty in other positions.
“I have no plan to oppose women in any aspect of our military,” Mattis said.
President-elect Donald Trump, who picked Mattis last month as his defense secretary, has suggested he might press the Pentagon to abandon combat integration after his repeated criticism of “political correctness” harming the military.
The Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted to give Mattis, who retired in 2013, a rare exemption from law that requires any defense secretary to be out of the military for at least seven years. The full Senate was expected to vote this month on his confirmation and clear the way for Mattis to take over the Pentagon when Trump takes office Jan. 20.
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