Two days after the 2nd inauguration of President Obama, another historical decision has been made by his administration that will enshrine him as one of our great presidents.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the abolishment of a ban that prohibits women from serving in combat roles. While I am most certainly anti-war, this is a major advancement for women in the military, and will open up thousands of opportunities for the women who serve our country in the Armed Forces.
Details are still sketchy, however:
Defense officials offered few details about Mr. Panetta’s decision but described it as the beginning of a process to allow the branches of the military to put the change into effect. Defense officials said Mr. Panetta had made the decision on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Women have long chafed under the combat restrictions and have increasingly pressured the Pentagon to catch up with the reality on the battlefield. The move comes as Mr. Panetta is about to step down from his post and would leave him with a major legacy after only 18 months in the job.
The decision clearly fits into the broad and ambitious liberal agenda, especially around matters of equal opportunity, that President Obama laid out this week in his Inaugural Address. But while it had to have been approved by him, and does not require action by Congress, it appeared Wednesday that it was in large part driven by the military itself. Some midlevel White House staff members were caught by surprise by the decision, indicating that it had not gone through an extensive review there.
According to ABC News, the policy change could take effect as early as May:
“We certainly want to see this executed responsibly but in a reasonable time frame, so I would hope that this doesn’t get dragged out,” said former Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell, who joined a recent lawsuit aimed at getting women on the battlefield.
The military services also will have until January 2016 to seek waivers for certain jobs — but those waivers will require a personal approval from the secretary of defense and will have to be based on rationales other than the direct combat exclusion rule.
The move is based on recommendations from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January:
Mr. Panetta’s decision came after he received a Jan. 9 letter from Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stated in strong terms that the armed service chiefs all agreed that “the time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.”
And that strange sloshing sound you hear? Well, that is the sound of the Republican masses few who have soiled their pants with the realization that the age of destructive, discriminatory and sexist conservatism may now truly be at an end, or at least, experiencing its last, lonely death rattle.