Sen. John McCain supports allowing women in combat, but says it remains critical for the military to uphold the same high standards that made it the strongest in the world.
On Wednesday, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that women will be permitted in combat, potentially opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and elite Special Forces jobs to women as well as men.
McCain, the military hero who has served Arizona as its Republican senator for 26 years, said Panetta's announcement is one that further supports the role of women in the military, reports Fox News.
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“I respect and support Secretary Panetta’s decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat,” McCain said. “The fact is that American women are already serving in harm’s way today all over the world and in every branch of our armed forces. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, and our nation owes them a deep debt of gratitude.”
However, he called for the military to keep up its rigorous standards – particularly the physical ones – as women take on further combat roles.
“As this new rule is implemented, it is critical that we maintain the same high standards that have made the American military the most feared and admired fighting force in the world – particularly the rigorous physical standards for our elite special forces units,” McCain said.
The move, recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, overturns a 1994 ruling that banned women from being assigned to ground combat units. The military has until January 2016 to seek special exemptions if they believe any position should remain closed.
Some positions may open as soon as this year, but others, including for the Navy SEALs and the U.S. Army's Delta Force, may take more time.
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