Pentagon officials say all four of the services are on track to open all military jobs to women by next year, and expect rules for those changes to be in place by this fall.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, defense officials said each of the services are reviewing the final male-only occupations within their ranks, to see what accommodations, if any, will need to be made in coming months.

Under current law, Pentagon officials have until the end of September to develop gender-neutral standards for all military occupations and until the end of December to finalize plans to allow women to compete for those jobs.

Service officials can request a hardship waiver for certain specialties, but officials from the four services offered no indication Tuesday that they expect to do that. Army and Navy officials said reviewing the requirements for some posts within special operations forces may stretch into the late fall.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said his service is facing a different problem when it comes to female service members: recruiting.

"We don't have enough women in our service," he told lawmakers. "One of the reasons we're having problems is that we do not have enough flexibility in how we manage our force."

Mabus and other service secretaries said they will submit legislative proposals for targeted recruiting of women and transfer of women to newly opened specialties in the upcoming defense authorization bill debate.

Women comprise roughly 15 percent of the current active-duty force. In recent years, Congress has made eliminating male-only rules in the services a priority, noting the combat service of many women in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Earlier this month, Army officials announced plans to open more than 4,100 officer and enlisted positions in special operations units that had been male-only.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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