Armed forces lifts ban on women in combat

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is planning to lift a ban on women serving in combat.

Women have not been allowed to serve in combat roles since the placement of the Combat Exclusion Policy in 1994, which stated that “women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.”

Those assignments included Infantry, Special Forces and the Armor. 

Panetta is expected to make the announcementThursday.

“There really isn’t a frontline anymore,” said Charles Dobbs, an ISU professor of history who teaches a class on military history. “The frontline is everywhere. Combat takes place just about anywhere.”

Dobbs explained that women in military roles in the past have not been associated with battle fronts.

“It [training] will stay the same for them [ISU women in ROTC]. They go through the exact same training as the males do,” said Lt. Col. Richard Smith, who describe some of the women in ROTC as “tough as nails.”

Smith believes that this has the possibility to open up future jobs for women in the military.

The armed forces have until May to present their plans on implementation. However, they will have until January 2016 to fully implement any new rules. 

“There will be some jobs not open to women even after the statement,” Dobbs said. The armed forces have until January 2016 to specify jobs that would still be exempt from women based off of conducted studies.

Dobbs pointed out that though Panetta is set to make the announcement on the lifting of the ban, he will not be in the position to carry out its implementation.

Panetta, who has been the Secretary of Defense since 2011, is expected to leave his position sometime in Feb. President Barack Obama nominated Chuck Hagel for the position on Jan. 7.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard reported that there were 214,098 women on active duty as of Sept. 30, 2011. As of that time, women made up 14.6 percent of the totaled armed forces.

Four servicewomen and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Pentagon in November over the Combat Exclusion Policy, stating that it was unconstitutional.