Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Women heading to Navy Riverine combat jobs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Anna Schnatzmeyer's face is taut with concentration as she slowly maneuvers the Riverine assault boat away from the dock, using the complex controls to try and inch the 34-foot craft straight back without sliding sideways.

Her instructor, standing next to her, orders her forward again, and despite the slow, careful creep, the Navy boat knocks into the pier.

It's the first time she's ever piloted a boat. She's in full battle gear and the sun is beating off Mile Hammock Bay on the edge of Camp Lejeune. A stiff wind is tossing waves against the nearby shore. And the pressure is mounting.

By year's end, Schnatzmeyer and five others are expected to become the first women formally assigned to a Riverine combat company, a battlefront Navy job that is just now opening up to women. The three Riverine Delta Company units are used for combat operations, often called on to move quickly into shallow waters where they can insert forces for raids, or conduct rescue missions.

The Delta Company jobs are some of the first combat positions in the military to formally accept women, and breaking through the barriers hasn't been easy. So, here, in this tangle of coastal waterways, Schnatzmeyer and the two other women in the crewman course know all too well that the world is watching.

"Ever since I was little, this is what I wanted to do," said Schnatzmeyer, who was in grade school when terrorists attacked on 9/11. "My dad would take me to air shows and I would tell my family I wanted to be a soldier."

She was drawn to the combat, to the guns.

"Growing up you want to join the branch and you want to do what you can to help, and then you realize, 'I can't go into combat,' " Schnatzmeyer, 23, said. "You think, what's the purpose of me being in the military? To sit at a desk?"

By lifting the ban on women in battlefront combat jobs, she said the Pentagon is now giving her and other women a chance. Riverine combat units, for example, went to war in Iraq. They were not used in Afghanistan, where river combat operations weren't really needed.

The military services are struggling to figure out how to move women into battlefront jobs, including infantry, armor and elite commando positions. They are devising updated physical and mental standards — equal for men and women — for thousands of combat jobs and they have until Jan. 1, 2016, to open as many jobs as possible to women, and to explain why if they decide to keep some closed.

The common requirements for men and women for each post would be based on specific tasks. Military officials say standards will not be lowered in order to bring women into any combat posts.

The Navy — which has nearly 69,000 women on active duty — is about to open up about 270 jobs in the Coastal Riverine Force to women. The service plans to let women serve in all but a "very limited number" of Navy positions. The bulk of the 22,000 Navy jobs closed to women — roughly 19,000 — are on older ships where it would be too costly to build new, separate facilities for women. The remaining 3,000 are in special operations units, which may be more difficult to fill because of the strenuous physical requirements.

U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms 3rd class Danielle Hinchliff, left, and Master-at-Arms 3rd class Anna Schnatzmeyer train under instructor Christopher Johnson at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Associated Press

U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms 3rd class Danielle Hinchliff, left, and Master-at-Arms 3rd class Anna Schnatzmeyer train under instructor Christopher Johnson at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Women heading to Navy Riverine combat jobs 11/09/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 9, 2013 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Guns, charter schools, drug education and more

    Blogs

    HOSTILE WORK PLACE: A legal review determines that while a University of South Florida technology center former director might have been boorish and hostile, …

  2. Fire crews battle blaze at apartment complex near Seminole Heights

    Fire

    Fire crews are battling a blaze that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment complex near Seminole Heights, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

  3. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  4. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton

    Cooking

    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  5. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack

    Movies

    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures