WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The top military official in charge of Special Operations said studies were under way on how to integrate women into elite U.S. combat forces.
U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven said female soldiers were already serving in support of Special Operations.
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced last week he was lifting a ban on women serving in combat roles in the military.
His decision means women can serve in most combat roles provided they meet the stated requirements. Women already serve as pilots, medics and security guards to the military's top officers.
"We have had women supporting direct special operations for quite some time," McRaven was quoted by the Defense Department's news service as stating. "So I am fully supportive of Secretary Panetta and the (Joint Chiefs of Staff) decision to do this -- and frankly, so were all the service chiefs and combatant commanders."
McRaven said Special Operations commanders were assessing what role women could serve in elite unites like the Army Rangers of Navy SEALs.
"I'm required to report back to the secretary, by the first quarter of (2016), a plan on how to integrate them," he said.