Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has lifted the 1994 rule prohibiting women in combat. Citing the increasing frequency of the enemy engaging units that women happen to serve in, Panetta argued that “the reality of combat,” necessitates the move. “It’s clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission of defending the nation,” Panetta said.
The decision comes on the heels of a decision issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to rescind the decades long ban. “The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service,” wrote General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a January memo.