US military to open frontline combat roles to women
WASHINGTON (92 News) – The US military will open up all positions – including frontline combat roles – to women, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Thursday in a sweeping move officially ending centuries of men-only tradition.
“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said at a news conference. He added, “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”
The decision overturns a longstanding rule that had restricted women from combat roles, even though women have often found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last 14 years.
It is the latest in a long march of inclusive steps by the military, including racial integration in 1948 and the lifting of the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military in 2011. The decision this week will open about 220,000 military jobs to women.
The military faced a deadline set by the Obama administration three years ago to integrate women into all combat jobs by January or ask for specific exemptions. The Navy and Air Force have already opened almost all combat positions to women, and the Army has increasingly integrated its forces.
Carter said that women would be allowed to serve in all military combat roles by early next year. He characterized the change as necessary to ensure that the United States military remained the world’s most powerful.