Rachel Martin

This time last week Americans were just starting to learn about the troubled Russian region of Chechnya after authorities released the identities of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Rebecca Cruise discusses women in combat and the U.S. drone program with NPR's Rachel Martin. Before taking over the host's chair of Weekend Edition Sunday, she reported from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and served as the network's national security correspondent.

Technical Sergeant William Greer / United States Air Force

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.