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Gen. Odierno, the top commander in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, said the study will also look at allowing women into the grueling Ranger School leadership course, partly because 90 percent of senior infantry officers are Ranger-qualified.

“We have to look at the all-encompassing problem that we have in terms of if we decide to do this, we want the women to be successful, and how do we make them most successful,” he said.

The British armed forces took a long look in the early 2000s at women in land combat, studying how they performed basic battlefield tasks. In the end, researchers found that so few females could handle the lifting and carrying of gear that the government decided to retain the ban. In 2010, the military reaffirmed that decision.