By: Devin McDaniel
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter changed the face of the American military this Thursday by announcing the Pentagon's decision to open all combat roles to women. The decision removes longstanding job restrictions that have prevented women from taking on official combat roles, despite the involvement of women soldiers in combat situations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
During the announcement Carter said, “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps Infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”
This decision marks the biggest change in American military-staffing policy since 2011 when the United States lifted the ban on gay men and lesbians openly serving in the military. According to The New York Times, this decision will allow women access to an additional 220,000 military jobs.
The decision comes in the face of increasing pressure on the military to further integrate women into combat positions before the Obama administration’s January 2016 deadline. The Navy and Air Force have a head start on the Military, having removed gender restrictions from most combat jobs over the course of the last three years while gender integration in the Army has simultaneously increased.
President Obama commented on the groundbreaking change this week: “As Commander in Chief, I know that this change, like others before it, will again make our military even stronger. Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent. Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve. I know that, under the leadership of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford, our men and women in uniform will implement this transition — as they have others — in a responsible manner that maintains military readiness and the unparalleled professionalism and strength of our armed forces.”
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.