Women to be allowed in all combat situations - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Women to be allowed in all combat situations


An historic change has been made in the U.S. Military, eliminating any restrictions on where and how women can serve.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Thursday he is ordering the military to open all combat jobs to women, rebuffing requests by the Marine Corps to exclude women from certain front-line combat jobs.

Until Thursday, women were allowed in roughly 90 percent of military positions excluding the more gruesome of duties mainly in front line service.

Paul Copeland is U.S. Air Force Veteran, who now coordinates events for Southern Illinois University’s Veterans Services Department.

“Historically, it’s believed that women aren’t allowed in these positions because they can’t complete them as effectively as male soldiers,” Copeland explained. “So of course the expectation would be that you had to carry the pack and the body armor, and you’ve gotta be able to pick up and grab a wounded soldier and get him to safety, and so there is some physical strength and endurance expectations. It is necessary that we maintain the requirements, but those who meet them should be allowed to do the job, regardless of gender.”

Only the Marine Corps sought any exceptions in removing the long-held ban on allowing women to serve in dangerous combat jobs. The Army, Navy and Air Force have moved steadily toward allowing women to serve in all posts, and only the most risky jobs remain closed.

Ash said there will be no exceptions, but any concerns will be methodically addressed while the rules are put into play.

The change will not require any gender ratios in the military, but will be confined to allowing qualified individuals to serve in any facet of military service, regardless of gender.

A senior defense official said the services will have to begin putting plans in place by April 1.

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Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

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