US military to remove ban on women serving in combat

The US Defence department is expected to lift a ban on women serving in combat after a decade of war that saw female troops thrust onto the battlefield.

In Feb 2012, US lifted a ban on women for about 14,000 combat-related jobs in an incremental move that was criticized as timid by some activists.

The demands to remove the blanket prohibition have surged after more than 10 years of war in which women fought and died in counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan where front lines were blurred.

Some senior officers are concerned that infantry and special forces units need major upper body strength and that difficult physical tests should not be relaxed for female recruits.

But female supporters are asking only for an equal chance for combat jobs—and not any special treatment.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s decision would apply mainly to the Army and the Marine Corps, as the Air Force and Navy already have removed most prohibitions on women in combat, with women flying warplanes, launching weapons on ships and also serving on submarines.

In active duty US military, women make up about 14.5% or about 204,000 service members.



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