Last year they opened up 14,500 positions to women and removed the ban from allowing women to live in combat zones. It's big because women in the military have already been serving in combat zones with the way modern warfare works; but because of the prohibitions, they aren't allowed to do the same duties or get paid the same as their male colleagues. I realize there's still some controversy about women serving in combat, but if they're already essentially serving in combat because of grey zones, and doing it well, it's about time they were recognized for doing so."Senior U. S. defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women." http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/23/panetta-women-combat-pentagon/1859221/
And for the record, I don't see the problem with extending the draft to both men and women; I mean, I do in the sense that I don't like our military industrial machine and would like a significant scale-back on our military and for us to stop with the chest-beating and banner-waving that leads to unjust wars. But I don't in the sense that women have served in combat for thousands of years. Sometimes openly, sometimes in secret; and I think if they do choose to serve in the military, any restrictions on where they can serve are wrong. And for all the talk about how the different physical tests for men and women are causing a weak military, blah blah blah; but upper arm strength and taller height didn't exactly win us the war in Vietnam where the people were shorter and skinnier on average than the American soldiers (many of those Vietnamese soldiers just so happened to be women by the way). A small number of countries already do extend the draft to both men and women and have been doing that for some time. Even if this ban were still in effect I would support the draft being extended to both, countries like Israel, Cuba and others draft both genders and may have prohibitions on where women can serve; so the women drafted were still serving, but in a different capacity.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, and a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement on Panetta's decision: "This is an historic step for equality and for recognizing the role women have, and will continue to play, in the defense of our nation. From the streets of Iraqi cities to rural villages in Afghanistan, time and again women have proven capable of serving honorably and bravely. In fact, it's important to remember that in recent wars that lacked any true front lines, thousands of women already spent their days in combat situations serving side-by-side with their fellow male servicemembers. I commend Secretary Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their decision and look forward to working with them on quickly implementing the end of this ban."