About 220,000 combat positions formerly limited to men are being opened to women in the U.S. Military, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday. Yes—equal opportunity to women in the military!
"They'll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers," Carter said, according to CNN. "There will be no exceptions."
The announcement comes after years of deliberation and some public resistance from the Marine Corps, which wanted to keep certain positions (such as infantry, machine gunner, fire support and reconnaissance) limited to men only.
Americans have been waiting for more women in combat; a 2013 Pew Research study showed 66 percent of people supported allowing women in the military to engage in close combat, while only 26 percent opposed.
And strong, deserving female soldiers have already been coming off the sidelines: Two women made history in August when they became the first female soldiers to complete Army's Ranger School—but they couldn't apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations team. Thanks to this new decision, now they can.
The policy will take 30 days to go into effect, and an even gender split among combat positions won't come immediately. Carter did say that the physical differences between men and women might keep some female soldiers from meeting the standards for certain units. But with the new availability of these positions, we have a feeling there will be many more vying to make the cut. (Want to be as strong as these female heroes? There's no need to enlist. Try this Military-Inspired TRX Workout.)