Military to now allow women in combat
WASHINGTON (CNN)—There are rumors swirling that the U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs to female troops.
CNN is reporting that multiple officials have confirmed that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will notify Congress of the policy change.
The new policy will make women eligible to serve as infantrymen on combat patrol and even in elite special operations units, like the Navy Seals.
Penatta’s decision overturns a 1994 rule that banned women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.
Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will look at the jobs and create a timetable to integrate them.
The Army and Marine Corps will likely examine physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations of combat units.
Panetta is said to be setting the goal of Jan. 2016 for all assessments to be complete and women integrated as much as possible.
CNN says a senior Defense official says if a branch finds a specific job that shouldn’t be open, they can ask for an exemption.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense, claiming combat exclusion is unfair and outdated. The plaintiffs in the case say the exclusion hurts their chances of getting a promotion.
Earlier this month, the Army opened the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to women.
The Navy has put its first female officers on submarines and some female ground troops have been attached to combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan