According to the Washington Post, “senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, which will open hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
Panetta made the decision “upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” a senior defense official said Wednesday, an assertion that stunned female veteran activists who said they assumed that the brass was still uneasy about opening the most physically arduous positions to women. The Army and the Marines, which make up the bulk of the military’s ground combat force, will present plans to open most jobs to women by May 15.
The Army, by far the largest fighting force, currently excludes women from nearly 25 percent of active-duty roles. The decision comes after a decade of counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where women demonstrated heroism on battlefields with no front lines.