Women in combat ban lifted, draws positive reaction - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Women in combat ban lifted, draws positive reaction

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Posted By:  Brittany Paris
Bparis@klkntv.com

The face of the military will soon look different... Women will now be able to officially be part of infantry units and special forces.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced on Thursday his plans to remove the ban on women serving in combat saying it's time for the military to acknowledge a new reality.

"Men and women alike. Everyone is committed to doing the job. They're fighting and dying together," Panetta said.

Women have officially been prohibited from serving in combat since 1994 in a rule that banned them from serving in ground combat units.  Roma Amundson is a Lancaster County Commissioner and a retired Brigadier General.  She says the ban hasn't protected women from danger.

"Just within the Nebraska Army National Guard, in my own experiences, we've had women commanders in Iraq. We had two women who were killed in combat," Amundson said.

Fourteen percent of the military's population is female.  Women have been able to fly in combat raids since 1993, and be on navy submarines since 2010.  And military officials say lifting the combat frontline restriction is the last hurdle.

"It's just normal. It's natural. Women have performed in combat duties and so this distinction of all combat jobs seems a little moot...it just to me, it just takes away these artificial limitations," Amundson said.

According to defense department officials, the armed services have until this May to figure out a plan to implement the change, and have until January 2016 to put the changes into action.

Military officials say this is just the armed forces catching up with the times.

"I just think, well, it's about time.'"

Military services will also have until January 2016 to seek waivers that will prevent women from taking certain jobs, but these waivers require approval from the secretary of defense.

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