Air Force to consider dropping ‘man’ from ‘airman’

DC NEWSBy Jonah Bennett

The Air Force said it will conduct a review to determine whether the use of “airman” is appropriate given the military’s push towards full gender equality.

An Air Force spokeswoman told Air Force Times the service is “dedicated to a culture of inclusiveness which enables all airmen to make their greatest contributions to mission success.

“While a review of job titles is not currently underway, we continually review all aspects of our programs and a review of job titles will be included as we proceed with the full integration of women into all Air Force occupational specialties.”

This confirms that a review of job titles, like the one initiated by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, is soon coming. Mabus’ review resulted in an order to the Marine Corps to purge the word “man” from job titles, with the exception that compound words can remain the same. In other words, “infantryman” is acceptable, but “reconnaissance man” is not. That order came as part of the broader initiative to open all combat roles to women.

There are six male-only jobs in the Air Force, but that number will soon drop to zero April 1.

What names may change? All four enlisted ranks contain the word “airman.” If the Air Force follows suit with the Marine Corps, then “man” may be lopped off. Pararescue men and weathermen may also undergo a switch.

When Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement in December to refuse the Marine Corps exemption request to keep some jobs male-only, he also added that plans to integrate women into all combat roles must be in motion by April 1, 2016, much to the disappointment of several members of Congress. GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, said in December that “No. 1, this is being done for political reasons. What is it going to do to our ability to be lethal at the small-unit level? It degrades that ability.”

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