Today is a historic day that will go down in the record books for America’s military. According to CNN, Thursday afternoon, it was announced that women in every military branch will be eligible for any job that they’re qualified for. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says it’s a move that will make the military stronger, and there will be “no exceptions.” This change will no longer prevent women from serving alongside men in combat arms units.
According to Time, President Obama compared allowing women in combat roles to desegregation and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Said the President, in a statement released on Thursday, “As Commander in Chief, I know that this change, like others before it, will again make our military even stronger.” He went on to say that, “women have proven that they, too, are qualified, ready and up to the task. They have served in wars with honor, and some have given their very lives.”
All military branches will open all of their jobs to women 30 days from today. This decision opens about 220,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of the entire active and reserve force to women, most of those jobs in Army and Marine Corps infantry and armor units. They will be allowed to lead soldiers into combat, serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Air Force parajumpers, any job for which they meet the now gender-neutral performance standards and other requirements. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advocated keeping some roles limited to men.
Women have been serving in the military since the American Revolution, where they were on the battlefields as nurses and cooks. Two women served as nurses aboard the ship United States, during the War of 1812. More than 500 Army nurses served in combat zones and hospitals during the Korean War. Flash forward to Vietnam, 7,000 American military women served in Southeast Asia, the majority of them, once again, as nurses. The U.S. Army Rangers opened up to women as well, and in October, a third woman joined two others to pass the Ranger School course, and graduated at Fort Benning, GA.