Sec. Panetta: General Dempsey and I are pleased to announce that 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 - live video
Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she's 'pleased' by reports that Panetta decided to open more combat roles to women; 'today's announcement reflects the increasing role that female service members play in securing our country' - statement via @NBCNews
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey formally signed a memo on Jan. 24, 2013, to rescind a 1994 military ban on women serving in combat. The move opens hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
The decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women. -AP