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AP/Mike Groll

The US military is finally opening all combat jobs to women

By Svati Kirsten Narula

US defense secretary Ashton Carter has decided to open all jobs in the US military to women, with no exceptions, overriding objections from some military officials.

“We cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country’s talent and skills,” Carter said at a press conference. After reviewing the various recommendations and requests for exemption from each branch of the military, he decided that women should be eligible for every role in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, including positions in the infantry, artillery, and armored divisions.

The debate over women’s roles in the US military has been simmering for years. This year, it intensified as a Jan. 1, 2016 deadline approached for all branches to consider opening combat positions to women.

In September, the Navy said it would let women become SEALs. In October,the Marine Corps asked for a few of its front-line squads to remain male-only, based on the results of a study testing mixed-gender combat squads against all-male ones.

Addressing the Marine Corps request, Carter said: “We are a joint force and I have decided to make a decision that applies to the entire force.”