Women will soon be able to serve in combat, as things officially changed with the stroke of a pen today at the Pentagon.
At a joint news conference, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Charman Gen. Martin Dempsey signed a memorandum rolling back a 1994 directive prohibiting women from doing so.
"They serve, they're wounded, and they die right next to each other," Panetta said of women and men in the military. "The time has come to recognize that reality.
"If they're willing to put their lives on the line, then we need to recognize that they deserve a chance," Panetta said, noting that he wants his own granddaughters and grandsons to have the same opportunities in their lives and careers.
The change won't be immediate, however. While Panetta announced that thousands of new positions will now be open to women, he has asked the military branches to submit plans by May on how to integrate women into combat operations. He set a January 2016 deadline for branches to implement the changes, giving military services time to seek waivers for certain jobs