Originally published January 24, 2013 at 10:47 a.m., updated January 25, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
It's official. Today Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey announced the Pentagon has lifted the ban on women serving in more than 230,000 combat roles.
Tara Jones, National Women's Military Veterans Association
Tony Perry, San Diego Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times
During the news conference, Dempsey told reporters that it's incorrect to say women will "soon" be serving in combat:
"Woman are serving in combat, and have been."
The news conference, which aired live on The Pentagon Channel, made official what was leaked to the media on Wednesday - that women in the United States military would no longer be forbidden from serving in certain combat jobs simply because of their sex.
The military services have begun working on their plans for how they’ll admit women and will be required to submit them to the secretary of Defense on May 15, officials said. After that, the Pentagon will give an analysis to Congress about how the change would affect the selective service, and lawmakers might ultimately make the decision about whether women could be drafted.
When asked by a reporter whether women would be allowed to join elite military forces like the Navy SEALS and Delta Force, Dempsey replied:
"We all believe that there will be women who can meet those standards."