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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora