Navy Secretary Defends Decision To Remove ‘Man’ From Job Titles


by Jonah Bennett

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus justified his decision to remove the word “man” from job titles, arguing Wednesday that the end goal of upending the old ratings structure was to “quit segregating women.”

Mabus, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., stated that the Navy’s new job title system, which is now similar to the rest of the services, will make promotion and retention easier, as sailors will no longer be siloed in specific job communities, Marine Corps Times reports.

“We’ve got several different specialties for working on aircraft,” Mabus said. “We’ve got structural mechanics; we’ve got people who work on avionics; we’ve got people who work on the engines. They can only promote through their narrow communities. We’re losing people because they can’t promote.”

Speaking to the change in the Marine Corps, which didn’t go nearly as far as the Navy in terms of adhering to gender neutrality, Mabus said the job title “corpsman” simply had to go.

Mabus explained his decision by saying that “corpsman” as a term isn’t even that old, dating back to the post-World War II period.

Yet, Mabus’ decision has enraged sailors and Marines alike enough for a petition advocating the reversal of the switch to reach 70,000 signatures since Sept. 29.

A retired admiral recently told Navy Times that sailors shouldn’t be the subject of social engineering experiments.

“My questions are: Why now, and was this merely an attempt by SECNAV in a political year to rush an important personnel initiative to the forefront for some sort of political or personal legacy gain?” the admiral said. “Our brilliant sailors, male and female, should not be pawns for political agendas.”

And yet, they have been, as part of the general directive of the Obama administration to reform the military to allow all women in combat roles and to allow transgendered troops to serve openly.

Mabus has followed along dutifully with that mandate.

Several months ago, Mabus issued a directive to the Navy and Marine Corps to make job titles more gender-neutral. While the Marines dropped the word “man” from 19 job titles, it kept the word in other occupations.

The Navy, however, modified its entire ratings system to drop the man from essentially everything but “seaman,” using an official who was about to retire to push the change through. The job titles change was announced after that official, then-Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens, had retired.

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