News / USA

Pentagon Lifts Ban on Combat Duty for Women

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in a news conference at the Pentagon, Jan. 24, 2013, where he announced he is lifting a ban on women serving in combat. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in a news conference at the Pentagon, Jan. 24, 2013, where he announced he is lifting a ban on women serving in combat.
x
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in a news conference at the Pentagon, Jan. 24, 2013, where he announced he is lifting a ban on women serving in combat.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in a news conference at the Pentagon, Jan. 24, 2013, where he announced he is lifting a ban on women serving in combat.
TEXT SIZE - +
Luis Ramirez
— U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lifted a rule that excluded women from combat in the U.S. military.  

In one of his last actions before retiring as secretary of defense, Panetta signed an order Thursday rescinding a 1994 rule that excluded women from combat.

“We are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women and we are moving forward with a plan to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service,” Panetta said.

The move is expected to open up thousands of new jobs previously not available to women on the front lines.

(Click to enlarge)(Click to enlarge)
x
(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)
The defense secretary, joined by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters at the Pentagon that women’s contributions to the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with their male counterparts in the past decade, warranted a reexamination of the old policy.

“They’re fighting and they’re dying together, and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality,” he said.

Panetta and Dempsey said a review is under way to see what frontline positions will be opened up to women.  

Officials said physical standards in physical endurance and other tests will remain the same - an effort to allay concerns that military readiness could suffer if physical standards are lowered in order to make more jobs available to women.  

Elaine Donnelly is with the Center for Military Readiness, a group that opposes the changes.  She doubts the Pentagon will be able to keep standards the same while at the same time working to raise the number of women in uniform.

“All these assurances that we’re hearing about training standards remaining the same are incompatible with another promise made by the Pentagon last year, and that is to advance what are called gender-based diversity metrics, or quotas, in all the armed forces.  In order to achieve the critical mass or diversity metrics, you have to lower standards," Donnelly said.

More than 202,000 women serve in the U.S. military, making up 15 percent of active U.S. personnel.

See related story by Jeff Swicord:

US Military Women to Serve in Combat Positionsi
X
January 25, 2013 12:37 AM
In a groundbreaking move, departing U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has lifted the ban on women serving in military combat positions. The Army and Marines, which make up the bulk of U.S. ground forces, are expected to present plans by May 15 to open most jobs to women. VOA's Jeff Swicord reports from Washington.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid