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.
    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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.