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Defense Secretary: Open all combat jobs to women

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter will order the military to open all combat jobs to women, The Associated Press has learned, rebuffing attempts by the Marine Corps to exclude women from certain front-line combat jobs.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at George Washington University in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, announcing the first phase of personnel reforms in his Force of the Future initiative. Dragging the Pentagon’s often-antiquated personnel systems into the 21st century, Carter announced a broad package of reforms aimed at attracting the next generation of service members. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Carter was expected to announce the change on Thursday, according to a senior defense official, who was not authorized to discuss the change publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Carter is giving the armed services until Jan. 1 to submit plans to make the historic change.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Marine Corps commandant, had argued that the Marines should be allowed to keep women out of certain front-line combat jobs, citing studies showing that mixed-gender units aren’t as capable as all-male units. Carter’s decision was a rejection of that argument.

Carter’s order will let women serve in the military’s most grueling and difficult jobs, including as special operations forces, such as the Army Delta units and Navy SEALs, according to the defense official.

The decision comes after several years of study, and will wipe away generations of limits on how and where women can fight for their country.