Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch said it’s good news for the U.S. military to allow women to serve in combat roles.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the change Thursday, saying women are integral to the military’s success and have shown they are willing to fight and die alongside their male counterparts.
Ms. Lynch was 19 when she was captured from her Army unit in 2003 after it took a wrong turn and came under attack in Iraq. She was rescued after nine days in captivity.
Ms. Lynch urges Americans to support women in combat and to push officials to ensure they have proper training, The Associated Press reports.
The order will open 200,000 more jobs to women, primarily in the Army and Marines, CBS reports. The services have until May to draw up a plan for opening all units to women and until the end of 2015 to implement it.