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Panetta Makes Formal Announcement To Allow Women To Take Combat Roles

Max Schwartz |
January 24, 2013 | 3:58 p.m. PST

Executive Producer


The Pentagon (gregwest98/Creative Commons)
The Pentagon (gregwest98/Creative Commons)
On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a statement from the Pentagon Press Briefing Room to reorganize the military and allow women to enter combats roles.

To some, this was one of the final gender inequalities that remained in American society. During the speech, Panetta said, "We've been working for well over a year to examine, how can we expand the opportunities for women in the services?" indicating this has been on the Pentagon's mind for at least that long.

The ban, especially in recent years, came under scrutiny because some women have been on the "front lines" in Iraq and Afghanistan even though they were not in combat roles.

Panetta acknowledged the increased role of women on the battlefield. "It's clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military's mission of defending the nation," he said. "Women represent 15 percent of the force."

The number is up from 2009 when women made up 14.25 percent of the force, or 198,000, according to the Department of Defense. Panetta continued with, "The fact is that they have become an integral part of our ability to perform our mission."

Women will be able to enter combat if they can handle the physical strain of war. CNN is reporting there will be a physical test before women can enter combat. This opening will also give women the opportunity to gain experience that is needed to move up the command structure.

President Obama is also in favor of this change. In a statement made by the president and released by the White House, Obama said, "Today, by moving to open more military positions - including ground combat units - to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens. This milestone reflects the courageous and patriotic service of women through more than two centuries of American history and the indispensable role of women in toddy's military."

It will take time for all of the changes to be implemented.

Read Secretary Panetta's speech here.

Reach Executive Producer Max Schwartz here; follow him on Twitter here.




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