U.S. Army Spc. Rebecca Buck provides perimeter security outside an Iraqi police station in the Tarmiya Province of Iraq, March 30, 2008.
Credit Technical Sergeant William Greer / United States Air Force
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sign a memo to lift the ban on women in military combat operations during a press conference at the Pentagon, Jan. 24, 2013.
Hear Rebecca Cruise's full interview with NPR's Rachel Martin
In January, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the end of the U.S. military’s 19-year-old ban on women officially serving in combat roles.
“Every time I visited the warzone, every time I've met with troops, reviewed military operations, and talked to wounded warriors, I've been impressed with the fact that everyone - men and women alike - everyone is committed to doing the job,” Panetta said. “They're fighting and they're dying together. And the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”
Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin covered national security issues for NPR from 2010-2012. She told KGOU’s World Views the change in policy recognizes the reality on the ground, but also will afford women the opportunity to compete for top-level spots in very elite military units.