US to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs
The move knocks down another societal barrier, after the Pentagon scrapped its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban in 2011 on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
The decision by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to be formally announced on Thursday and comes after 11 years of non-stop war that has seen dozens of women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They have represented around 2 percent of the casualties of those unpopular, costly wars, and some 12 percent of those deployed for the war effort, in which there were often no clearly defined front lines, and where deadly guerrilla tactics have included roadside bombs that kill and maim indiscriminately.
"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," said Democratic Senator Patty Murray from Washington, the outgoing head of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
The move was also welcomed by Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said it reflected the "reality of 21st century military operations." In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a suit in November seeking to force the Pentagon to end the ban, applauded the move.
The decision overturns a 1994 policy that prevents women from serving in small front-line
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