Pentagon to end policy against combat duty for female soldiers
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is to announce Thursday the end of the U.S. military’s policy of excluding female soldiers from combat duty and units.
Defense officials said Wednesday the new policy gradually opens combat jobs to women while the mechanics are being polished. Combat jobs in the Army and Marine Corps are likely to be offered to women by the end of the year while it will likely take a while in the Special Operations Forces and Infantry units.
There is also a possibility that specific jobs will be exempted from the policy and be closed to women, according to a senior defense official.
However, Panetta’s last significant policy before stepping down in mid-February will be fully implemented by January 2016. The start of implementation will be at least 30 days after the Department of Defense informs Congress of the policy change.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, expressed support for the move. The Service Women’s Action Network welcomed the policy change with its director, ex-Marine captain Anu Bhagwati, describing it a promoting equality and professionalism in the armed forces.
Female service members were sent closer to the battlefronts in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 years ago. In February, the Pentagon offered 14,000 combat-related positions to women but disallowed them in 238,000 other positions.