The US Department of Defense (DoD) has approved the landmark decision to open all US military combat positions for women.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said: "The Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally approved the final implementation plans prepared by the military services and US Special Operations Command to integrate women into all combat roles."
According to a statement released by the DoD, Carter said that the department must handle the change ‘the right way, because the combat effectiveness of the world’s finest fighting force is paramount’.
The defence secretary said that the department’s performance standards are now based on ‘real-world operational requirements and the experiences gained in Iraq and Afghanistan’.
Carter added: "As a result our military will be even better at finding and training not only the most-qualified women, but also the most-qualified men, for all military specialties."
The implementation group’s review of the services were governed by seven guiding principles, including transparent standards, population size, physical demands and physiological differences, conduct and culture, talent management, operating abroad, and assessment and adjustment.
The integration does not guarantee the promotion of women at any set rate or period. The DoD will continue to operate the military based on a merit system.
The decision will open up nearly 220,000 positions for women in infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations units.
It overrules the US Marine Corps’ request to keep positions such as infantry, machine gunner, fire support, and reconnaissance open to men only.
Image: An urban operations training exercise with a female engagement team at Fort Pickett. Photo: courtesy of Marine Corps / Lance Cpl. Koby I. Saunders.