Last week Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that he was ending the military’s ban on women serving in combat positions. “Female service members have faced the reality of combat, proving their willingness to fight and, yes, to die to defend their fellow Americans,” Panetta said during a press conference. Currently women make up 14 percent of the United States military and 280,000 have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many service women have been injured in those wars and 152 have died. The new rule could open 237,000 positions to women who meet certain standards in areas like the infantry and artillery, although the military has until 2016 to argue for certain posts to be exceptions to this rule and remain closed to women. This hour, we’ll look at this groundbreaking policy shift and what it means for service women, the military and society. Also, what are some of the challenges to implementing it? Marty talks with BETH BAILEY, a Professor of History at Temple University who studies gender and military institutions, COLLEEN FARRELL, a U.S. Marine Corp Captain who is one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit challenging the Department of Defense’s combat ban, and ELAINE DONNELLY, President of the Center for Military Readiness.
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File