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All U.S. military combat positions are being opened up to women, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Thursday.

About  220,000 jobs that are now limited to men, will be opened up for women within the coming weeks. Women will be able to join infantry, armor, reconnaissance and also some special operations units.

Given physical difference between men and women, there will likely be few women who qualify for the most demanding positions. No integration would be “pursued  at a cost of combat effectiveness”, Carter said. In August two women became the first females to complete the Army Ranger school. Now they will be able to join the Ranger Regiment, a possibility previously denied to them.

“This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,”


Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not agree with the change, but opted not to openly criticize Carter.. The Marine Corps has long been advocating to keep some roles, such as infantry, machine gunner, fire support and reconnaissance, limited to men.

The policy move will take effect after 30 days, Carter said, “there will be no exceptions,”