WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided
to lift the military's ban on women serving in combat, a move that could open
thousands of front-line jobs to women, a senior US defense official
The decision, which will be formally announced later, would give
the individual military services until 2016 to seek an exemption if they believe
any jobs should remain closed to women, the official said.
change will initiate a process whereby the services will develop a plan to
implement this decision, which was made by the secretary of defense upon
recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," the official said.
decision overturns a 1994 policy that prevents women from serving in small
front-line combat units.