U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced today that the Pentagon will open all combat jobs to women, overturning a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricted women from artillery, armor, infantry, and other combat roles. The military was a month from a deadline set by the Obama administration three years ago, to integrate women into all combat jobs by 2016 or ask for specific exemptions. The Navy, Air Force, and Army have all increasingly integrated their forces, and the only exemption requested was from the Marine Corps. Despite a very public campaign by the Marines, Carter denied their request on the basis that the military should operate under a common set of standards. Many women had already been participating in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan without being allowed to be designated for combat roles, and many say that such inaccurate designations have denied them recognition for their service and held them back from career advancement. “When I became secretary of defense, I made a commitment to building America’s force of the future,” said Carter. “In the 21st century that requires drawing strength from the broadest possible pool of talent. This includes women.” Republican chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services committee have however expressed reservations and, by law, will have 30 days to review the decision.
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