Pentagon Chief Leon Panetta has lifted a ban that prohibited women from serving in combat, opening up thousands of front-line positions.
The groundbreaking move overturns a 1994 rule that banned women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. However, in recent years the demands of two wars pushed women into jobs as military police, medics, and intelligence officers that were sometimes part of, if not formally, units on the front lines. Women compromise about 14% of the 1.4 million active military personnel.
During his Pentagon tenure, Secy. Panetta has been pushing for more equality inside the military. He confirmed the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing gay troops to serve openly in the military.
After the announcement, Armed Services Chair Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said he supports Panetta’s move because “it reflects the reality of 21st century military operations."
According the the AP, Panetta's decision sets January 2016 as the deadline for the military to “seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.”
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