The Pentagon chief has announced that he will open up all military roles - including combat ones - to women. The decision represents a major step toward promoting gender equality in the US military.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Thursday that he was opening all military positions to women, including combat missions in which women had previously been barred from serving.
The historic move comes three years after the Pentagon said it would allow women to serve on the front lines of combat, a decision that made thousands of military jobs newly available to them.
Carter touted the decision as a way to advance equal rights within the ranks of the military.
Long road ahead
He also acknowledged that change would not happen overnight and that there would "still be challenges to overcome." The Pentagon will begin putting the plan in motion on April 1.
Some within the military, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have argued that women should not be allowed to participate in the Marine Corps.
Earlier in the year, Carter announced plans to allow transgendered people to serve openly in the military. The current ban is expected to end in May.
blc/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)