In a landmark decision, the Pentagon is lifting a decades-old ban on women in combat roles, according to media reports.
The New York Times reported that the move, which overturns a 1944 decision, will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to women, senior defense officials said Wednesday (January 24) in Washington.
However, more than 20,000 women already have served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. And as of 2011, more than 130 women had been killed and 800 women had been wounded in the two wars.
The service branches officially have until January 2016 to implement the move, but a military official said the change would be implemented “as quickly as possible."
-- How do you feel about the ban on women in combat roles officially being lifted? Do you know of anyone with Gwinnett connections in such a role? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
According to the Washington Post, critics of opening combat positions to women have argued that integration during deployment could create a distracting, sexually charged atmosphere. Critics also say that women are unable to perform some of the more physically demanding jobs.
The move was announced by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, acting on a request by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Huffington Post reported that active-duty female personnel make up about 15 percent -- or 207,308 -- of the more than 1.4 million U.S. armed forces, according to the Department of Defense.
Newson6.com in Tulsa, Okla., reported that Panetta's order will make women eligible to serve as infantrymen on combat patrol, and even in elite special operations units such as the Navy SEALS. However, women will have to meet the strength standards.