The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) was established in 1951 by Secretary of Defense, 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, DACOWITS' recommendations have been very instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.


The Committee is composed of not more than 20 civilian members, representing a distribution of demography, professional career fields, community service, and geography. Members are selected on the basis of their experience with the military or with women's workforce issues. Members must be U.S. citizens, and are selected without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, mental or physical disability, age, marital status or sexual orientation. Active duty military including members of the National Guard or Reserves, and current federal government employees are not eligible for nomination or Committee membership.

2020 Membership Solicitation

Reports and Recommendations

The Committee provides an invaluable service to the Department as an independent body of "citizen" advisors. The Committee's operations and output are focused and formalized. This requires a dedicated core of members who are available to receive specialized training on Service issues and group facilitation techniques, and who can provide meaningful feedback and assessments.

The Committee provides an annual report to the Secretary of Defense with information gathered through installation visits, business meetings, relevant reports and survey data, and input from individual Service members. This combination of research and first-hand experiences provides a solid basis for each DACOWITS recommendation.


The DACOWITS is authorized under the provisions of Public Law 92-463, the Federal Advisory Committee Act. By law, the DACOWITS Charter is valid for two years at a time.

Ex-Officio Representatives

Ex-Officios to DACOWITS are appointed as non-voting members of the Committee to provide program expertise and specific data on those areas under their cognizance. The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness can designate a representative from Military Personnel Policy, Military Community and Family Policy, and Reserve Affairs. In addition, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has designated the Director of the Center for Women Veterans as an ex-officio.

Service and Other Defense Points of Contact

Service Points of Contact are selected by each Service and the Office of the Secretary of Defense as official representatives of that agency. Length of tenure is determined by the selecting agency. Although non-voting participants, Service Points of Contact are required to provide on-the-spot information at the DACOWITS meetings, research and supply facts and data in response to requests for information, and assist in clarifying policies. The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard are all represented in DACOWITS.

Other Defense Points of Contact are designated through the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.