This is groundbreaking. One of the last openly discriminatory policies against women in the military is going to be phased out, thanks to the Obama administration. According to senior defense officials, Secretary of Defense Panetta is going to announce that he is removing the ban on women in combat. Panetta’s decision would give the military until January 2016 to open their frontline combat positions to women or to seek special exceptions if they think a position needs to be closed to women.
The 1994 Combat Exclusion Policy, which bans women from being in combat, states the following:
Service members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground
Panetta’s decision to eventually remove the ban could open over 200,000 jobs to women that were previously closed. It will also give women greater opportunities for promotion.
For more on why frontline combat positions should be open to women and for information on the ACLU lawsuit against the Secretary of Defense claiming the Combat Exclusion Policy violates the Equal Protection Clause, see my previous post.
Women on the Frontlines Timeline NPR.