On Wednesday, U.S. military officials reportedly decided to lift the country's ban on women serving in combat, reversing a 1994 rule that prohibited women from such roles.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the decision Wednesday and will announce it Thursday, according to several media reports.
Recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, allowing women to serve on the front lines and elite positions in combat would be historic for women's rights supporters. According to USA Today, which learned of the decision from an unnamed government source:
The official said the services will develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year. Assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALs and the Army's Delta Force, may take longer.
Panetta's move expands the Pentagon's action nearly a year ago to open about 14,500 combat positions to women, nearly all of them in the Army. This decision could open more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, to women.
The tolls of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan helped propel the push to allow women in combat. Women make up 14 percent of active military personnel.
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