Defense secretary opens combat roles to women
A major change to U.S. military operations is under way.
Senior defense officials said Wednesday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is lifting the ban on women in combat.
Previously, a 1994 rule prohibited women from being assigned to small ground combat units, but Panetta's decision will overturn it. The decision could open hundreds of thousands of front-line jobs to female soldiers as early as this year.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended the move.
Women make up about 14 percent of the country’s 1.4 million active military personnel.