"Women represent 15% of the force, over 200,000," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
That's 200,000 women who could soon move to the frontlines of combat.
Panetta has lifted the ban on women in military combat roles.
"It's clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military's mission of defending the nation. They're serving in a growing number of critical roles on and off the battlefield," said Panetta.
The new policy will open up those frontline jobs to women, mostly in the Army and Marines.
Many say it's about time. Female service members are already in combat.
"You've got a bunch of strong, capable, awesome women who can take any challenge that's thrown at us," said one female soldier.
In fact, Army Aviators like those trained at Fort Rucker have been in combat for the past two decades.
"If they're willing to put their lives on the line, then we ought to recognize that they deserve a chance to serve in any capacity they want," said Panetta.
Women will have to meet certain standards. That means fitness requirements could keep them out of some units.
Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War Veteran, believes women should be given a fair shot.
"If the women can't meet the standards then they don't get to graduate from the program but if they can meet the standards then we gain another soldier who is willing to serve this nation and willing to lay their lives down in a combat roll and that's good for our military," said Duckworth.
And ultimately good for our country.
Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions. It will be up to the military service chiefs to recommend whether women should be excluded from any of those more demanding and deadly positions, such as Navy SEALs or the Army's Delta Force.
At least 130 female troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 800 were wounded.
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