UPDATE: January 23, 2013
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it would lift the ban on women in combat. This landmark decision reverses the 1994 "direct ground combat rule," which held that "women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground."
The policy change is long overdue. The last few decades had made the ban largely irrelevant; increasing counterinsurgency warfare virtually erased the concept of combat front lines and female soldiers' contributions to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were undeniable. The policy had nevertheless continued to officially exclude women from 7.3 percent of army positions, largely in Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces. More importantly, it had limited women's career paths and promotion opportunities and contributed to gendered stereotypes about war as ultimately "the business" of men.
The decision to remove the exclusion now is
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