Well, it’s about time.
Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.
Last year, the Pentagon made a move towards this policy change by opening up thousands more combat positions to women. And, of course, women have been risking their lives–and sometimes losing them–on the front lines for awhile now. Any tired sexist arguments about how they’re not up for the task were made moot by the fact that, like it or not, they’ve already been doing it.
As Marine Corps Captain Zoe Bedell explained, “[The female marines] patrolled every day with the infantry, and sometimes twice a day. They lived every day on the same combat outposts in remote corners of Afghanistan. They wore the same gear and they carried the same rifles, and when the unit was attacked, my marines fought back.”
And now they’ll finally be get the credit–and opportunities–that come from having that service recognized.