President Obama said Thursday that the Pentagon’s move to open combat units to women will strengthen the U.S. military, similar to the impact in past decades of desegregating the armed forces and allowing gay service members to serve openly.
“As commander in chief, I know that this change, like others before it, will again make our military even stronger,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent. Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve.”
The president called it “another historic step forward.”
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Thursday that he is opening all jobs in combat units to women, ending a three-year period of research on the subject. The military’s most elite units will be open to women who can meet the requirements, including the Navy SEALS and special operations forces, as well as Marine Corps infantry units.
About 10 percent of the military has remained closed to women.
The president said opening up other military jobs to women in recent decades has shown that they are “ready and up to the task.”
“In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our courageous women in uniform have served with honor, on the front lines — and some have given their very lives,” the president said.
Mr. Obama said he’s confident that the Pentagon’s leadership will implement the new policy “in a responsible manner that maintains military readiness and the unparalleled professionalism and strength of our armed forces.”