On January 23, 2013, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon would be lifting the longstanding ban on women serving in direct combat positions in the US military. This measure reverses the1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule that prohibited women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. The 1994 Rule further gave the military discretion to restrict the assignment of women to other positions such as those with physically demanding tasks or where cohabitation of troops was required.
In passing this new measure, the Defense Department seeks to "eliminate barriers to joining, advancing and succeeding in the US Armed Forces." Allowing women to serve in combat roles will significantly affect military employers and hopefully minimize the risk of sex discrimination, harassment and assault in the military and lead to greater equality between the sexes. It will open up new jobs and expand the opportunities for women to serve in leadership positions.
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