The Pentagon Will Open All U.S. Military Combat Positions to Women

Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s order sidesteps Marine Corps protests.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is set to announce Thursday that he will order the U.S. military to open up all combat positions to women, reports the Associated Press. The AP also reports all branches of the armed services will need to make whatever changes are necessary by January 1, 2016. 

The Marines, at least, have made it clear that they didn’t want women in frontline jobs:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Marine Corps commandant, had argued that the Marines should be allowed to keep women out of certain front-line combat jobs, citing studies showing that mixed-gender units aren’t as capable as all-male units. Carter’s decision was a rejection of that argument.

The Army, Navy and Air Force, however, have long been edging toward women in tactical positions. As noted by the AP, women will now be eligible to serve in the toughest units, like the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta force. 

The press service quoted Ash Carter’s  answer to a question from a soldier in which he made his position on the issue clear: “Half the American population is female. So I’d be crazy not to be, so to speak, fishing in that pond for qualified service members.”

Photos by Stacy Pearsall / Aurora / Getty