Pentagon expands women's opportunities

Feb. 9, 2012 at 6:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The Pentagon Thursday announced women in the U.S. military can consider thousands of new assignments and opportunities that would get them closer to combat.

"The Department of Defense is committed to removing all barriers that would prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility that their talents and capabilities warrant," the department said in its "vision statement."

"Women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military's mission," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a release. "Through their courage, sacrifice, patriotism and great skill, women have proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles on and off the battlefield.

"We will continue to open as many positions as possible to women so that anyone qualified to serve can have the opportunity to do so."

By lifting a 1994 policy barring women from jobs such as mechanic and radar operator, more than 14,000 positions will become available for the first time to female service members.

"The dynamics of the modern-day battlefield are non-linear, meaning there are no clearly defined front line and safer rear area where combat support operations are performed within a low-risk environment," the report says.

The Pentagon will wait until spring to put the new policy into practice once Congress has been in session for 30 consecutive days.

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