The US Military Just Announced ‘Historic’ Change To Combat Policy- Many Are Worried

Women can apply for positions on the front lines of America’s military after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Dec. 3 the U.S. military’s combat policy will change in 30 days to make all combat roles open to women.

He stressed there would be no exceptions and his decision overrules objections from the U.S. Marines Corps that some positions, like machine gunners, are not suitable for women. Reasons given by the Marines included studies showing a higher injury rate for women using some of the heavy artillery and that men performed better in particular combat situations. Carter took notice of the objections.

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“We are a joint force and I have decided to make a decision that applies to the entire force,” Carter said.

Carter said the military will not lower its combat standards to accommodate women.

“This means that, as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before,” he said.

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Approximately 220,000 positions previously denied women will now be available to apply. The military has researched women in combat for three years with research including running trials for smaller female groups. Carter’s decision stems from the trials’ successes.

Although women have been allowed in the armed forces since 1948, they were excluded from infantry, artillery and other ground combat jobs. Leon Panetta, a predecessor to Carter serving under President Barack Obama, made a commitment in 2013 to allow women in combat roles by January 2016.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said this was the right decision.

“The decision to make the military gender-neutral will maximize the combat effectiveness of Navy and Marine Corps,” Mabus said.

Carter said the change fits with the military’s values.

“However, women make up more than half of the nation’s population and should be given an equitable chance to serve in all military combat roles…The military has long prided itself on being a meritocracy,” Carter said.

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