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The Defense Department on March 9 officially opened all combat jobs to women, the Pentagon announced. “It is absolutely critical to our warfighting ability and the welfare of our people that we embark on full integration with a commitment to the monitoring, assessment, and in-stride adjustments that enable sustainable success,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrote in a Wednesday memo to all services, approving their plans to integrate women into combat jobs. The Air Force, as of the first quarter of Fiscal 2016, had 4,099 positions closed to women in six Air Force Specialty Codes, but effective Jan. 4 USAF updated its regulations and advertised that all occupations are open to women, according to the service’s implementation plan. The Air Force will keep “previously developed and validated operationally relevant and objective standards” for the career fields that had previously been closed, and it “has not changed, raised, or lowered standards as part of opening up our battlefield airman career fields to women,” according to USAF’s implementation plan. “The mental and physical standards in place prior to opening to women will be the exact same standards in place and in use after we open the career fields to women.” The tactical air control party career field will be the first to open to women with the first class including women set to report to training on March 15. If training is successful, the first woman could report to an operational TACP unit in December, according to the USAF plan. It will take longer for women to reach operational units in other career fields because of the length of technical training, which can take up to two years.