Leading Democrats hailed the surprise news Wednesday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta plans to lift the ban on women in combat.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, hailed the news Wednesday that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will lift the ban on women serving in combat, calling the move "an historic step for equality."
“This is an historic step for equality and for recognizing the role women have, and will continue to play, in the defense of our nation," Murray said in a statement. "From the streets of Iraqi cities to rural villages in Afghanistan, time and again women have proven capable of serving honorably and bravely. In fact, it’s important to remember that in recent wars that lacked any true front lines, thousands of women already spent their days in combat situations serving side-by-side with their fellow male servicemembers. I commend Secretary Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their decision and look forward to working with them on quickly implementing the end of this ban.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a concise written statement: “I support it. It reflects the reality of 21st century military operations.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, R-N.Y., a member of the Armed Services Committee, also was effusive, noting that she helped insert language into the fiscal 2013 defense authorization law (PL 112-239) requiring a feasibility study on lifting the ban.
“This is a proud day for our country and the step we need to formally recognize the brave women who are already fighting and dying for our country shoulder-to-shoulder with their brothers in uniform on the frontlines,” she said in a written statement. “This decision finally opens the door for more qualified women to excel in our military and advance their careers, and obtain all of the benefits they have earned.”
House Democrats also praised the decision by Panetta, who is expected to step down once the Senate confirms his successor, former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.
“I have been a firm believer in removing the archaic combat exclusion policy for many years,” Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., a senior member of the House Armed Services panel, said. “I am happy to hear the secretary will be making significant changes as part of an effort to expand opportunities for women in the military.”
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