Retired Air Force Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger took office June 15 as the chairperson of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), Pentagon officials announced. She succeeds retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frances C. Wilson.
Wolfenbarger was commissioned in 1980 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, beginning her career in acquisition as an engineer at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. She became the first woman to achieve four-star general rank in the Air Force, and she retired in 2015.
DACOWITS was established in 1951 by then-Defense Secretary George C. Marshall. The committee is composed of civilian women and men who are appointed by the secretary of defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly-qualified professional women in the armed forces.
Historically, officials said, DACOWITS’ recommendations have been instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.
DACOWITS members include prominent civilian women and men representing a distribution of demography, academia, industry, public service and other professions, officials noted, adding that selection is on the basis of experience in the military or with women’s-related workforce issues.
The committee’s 2016 charter authorizes a total of 20 members who are selected for a four-year term without compensation. Members perform a variety of duties, including visiting military installations each year, conducting a review and evaluation of current research on military women, and developing an annual report with recommendations on these issues for service leadership and the secretary of defense.