For a guy who never served a day in the military Barack Obama sure will be leaving his mark on it. First, the end of DADT and now women being allowed to serve in combat? I'm actually with the idea...if they're qualified and what with us long having female police officers and what have you, it's probably long overdue anyway, plus it's only fair, right?
The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, multiple officials told CNN on Wednesday.RELATED: Panetta lifts Pentagon ban on women serving in direct combat
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement Thursday and notify Congress of the planned change in policy, the officials said.
"We will eliminate the policy of 'no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,'" a senior defense official said.
The officials cautioned, however, that "not every position will open all at once on Thursday." Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an "assessment phase," in which each branch of service will examine all its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable for integrating them.
The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report on their progress.
The move will be one of the last significant policy decisions made by Panetta, who is expected to leave in mid-February. It is not clear where former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the nominated replacement, stands, but officials say he has been apprised of Panetta's coming announcement.
"It will take a while to work out the mechanics in some cases. We expect some jobs to open quickly, by the end of this year. Others, like special operations forces and infantry, may take longer," a senior defense official explained. Panetta is setting the goal of January 2016 for all assessments to be complete and women to be integrated as much as possible.