Army increasing female recruiters, targeting women to join

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) (AP) As the Pentagon opens all combat posts to women, the Army plans to increase the number of female recruiters to target women. Currently, out of the 8,800 Army and Army Reserve recruiters only 750 are women.

The goal will be to add one percent each year for the next three years in order to get at least one woman at each of the Army's more than 780 larger recruiting centers across the country.

In Lincoln, there are currently no female recruiting officers according to Sgt. First Class Josey Huffman, Center Leader Recruiting for Lincoln. "I would love to have a female recruiter here in Lincoln, but it's not up to me, it's not up to anyone in this office. It's actually up to Big Army," Sgt. Huffman said.

As women move into combat roles, Army commanders also want to have women in leadership positions across the force to serve as mentors and role models. In particular, Army leaders want more women as drill sergeants and platoon sergeants as recruits go through basic and advanced training.

Army Reserve recruit Jamie Johnson said having a female recruiter would be good because she feels they can relate more to women. "I feel like it would be better for girls who want to join to have someone to be able to tell them exactly how it works for girls."

Johnson said the first thing she asked Sgt. Huffman was how many push ups would she have to do at basic. She said, "I am a girl, I can't do a lot of push ups!" Johnson said she thinks one of the biggest turn offs for girls is all the physical training that is required, but she admits Sgt. Huffman made her feel confident she could do it.

Starting this summer prospective soldiers will also be required to take part in new physical tests. According to Army leaders, the tests will evaluate all recruits. They will be required to run, jump, lift a weight and throw a heavy ball, all to help the Army figure out if the recruit can handle a job with high physical demands.

While the tests coincide with the campaign to bring women into combat fields, military officials note that setting specific physical standards for all jobs may prevent some men from getting into certain infantry or armor posts if they don't qualify.

The tests stem from the three years of study the Army did as it considered whether all combat jobs, including grueling infantry, Army and special operations careers, should be opened to women, and what abilities recruits needed to succeed at the more difficult battlefront posts.