Women Now Allowed to Serve in Combat in Military - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Women Now Allowed to Serve in Combat in Military

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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced Thursday that women will be allowed to perform in combat. Pentagon officials say the new policy will be phased in over the next three years and will open more than 200,000 front-line jobs to women serving mostly in the Army and Marines. Lifting the ban also means more advancement opportunities and higher pay for women.

President Barack Obama commented that allowing women to serve in combat marks another step toward the country's founding ideals of fairness and equality. Obama said in a written statement he expressed strong support for the decision to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who lifted the combat ban Thursday.

Obama says he is confident the decision - coupled with the recent repeal of the ban on gays in the military - will strengthen the U.S. military.

"I think it's a great opportunity for soldiers and airmen, females to advance in the military," said LTC Theresa Brown, a member of the Michigan National Guard.

"If they're qualified, then they should have the opportunity to do just that," said Staff Sgt. Diana Ferguson, a member of the Michigan National Guard.

Combat is nothing new to Lt. Colonel Theresa Brown. In her 24-year Michigan National Guard Career, she's been deployed to Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan and believes women can handle being on the front lines.

"There are very tough women out there. I've seen males that haven't been able to handle the rigors of combat," said Brown. "I think if a woman wants to be in that position, they'll train, they'll be able to do it."

The idea also has its skeptics. Local Marine Corps Korean Combat Veteran Eugene Hanson served in the 1950's as a tank commander and isn't sure if women can physically keep up with the men.

"If a woman can do it, fine. That's got to be the woman's prerogative," said Hanson. "The new generation, I don't know. Over where I was at, I wouldn't want them over there."

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