In a historic step, the ban on women serving in front line combat roles is lifted.
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and army chief General Martin Dempsey rescinded the rule on Thursday (January 24), potentially opening up thousands of U.S. military roles to women.
SOUNDBITE: U.S. DEFENCE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA SAYING (English):
"Every time I visited the war zone, every time I've met with troops, reviewed military operations, and talked to wounded warriors, I've been impressed with the fact the everyone, everyone, men and women alike, everyone is committed to doing the job. They are fighting and they are dying together, and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality."
Change is expected to be gradual and the decision comes with important caveats.
Officials say acceptance into new roles is not guaranteed, and will be based on gender-neutral performance standards.
Service chiefs have until 15th May to offer plans to implement the policy by 2016.
Pentagon lifts ban on women in combat (1:22)
Jan. 25 - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the U.S. military chief announce a historic step of lifting the military's ban on women in front line combat. Sarah Charlton reports. ( Transcript )