FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Maryland — Secretary of Defense Ash Carter approved the Marine Corps’ Force Integration Implementation Plan, which systematically opens all military occupational specialties, March 10, 2016.

The Marine Corps utilized the time afforded to the services and United States Special Operations Command to develop a comprehensive plan to fully implement the policy of the Secretary of Defense. As a result of the research, the Marine Corps instituted clearly defined gender neutral, operationally relevant, individual performance standards across the spectrum of Marine training and military occupation specialties, which facilitates the matching of Marines to jobs for which they are best qualified.

This systematic plan is conditions-based and event-driven, with many actions occurring in the first 12 months.

“The implementation plan was deliberately and thoughtfully designed to ensure that the Marine Corps takes advantage of this opportunity to maximize the talent and skills of all its Marines and to make sure we sustain the most combat effective force,” said Maj. Misty Posey, plans officer for Manpower Plans Integration.

A large subject of controversy is the idea that the Marine Corps will lower physical standards because of this change.

“That’s absolutely not the case; that’s never been part of the plan,” said Posey. “In most cases, when we codified our standard, they actually are higher than what they were before.”

The implementation process can be broken down into four broad sections: screening, classification, qualification and continuation.