There is huge, huge news for women in the armed forces

Thursday, history was made for women all over the world. . . especially for those who have joined or plan to join the armed forces. In a press conference, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that women can now take on any U.S. military combat role. This is huge news.

What this move does is allow women to qualify for about 220,00 jobs that were previously only available to men. CNN says those jobs include, “infantry, armor, reconnaissance and some special operations units.”

“Implementation won’t happen overnight,” Carter said, explaining that after a 30-day review period, women will be integrated into the new roles; the waiting period allows Congress to raise any objections, if they have any.

“As long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before,” Carter told a Pentagon news conference. “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars, and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

The announcement comes after the United States Army graduated three women — Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, and Maj. Lisa Jaster, 37  — from its prestigious, elite Ranger School, which was opened up to women on a full-time basis in September.

Carter highlighted that although women and men have different physical standards on average, “average” is the key word, because although there are women who wouldn’t be of standard for the armed forces, there are certainly also men who wouldn’t be able to make the cut. Carter also explained that the military is a meritocracy, meaning that the most qualified soldier should always get the job, no matter their gender.

He also noted that this may open up the conversation about whether more women would have to register for the draft; currently, the U.S. military is all volunteer, but currently, young men would have to register in the case of the draft being reopened.

“To succeed in our mission of national defense, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country’s talent and skills,” Carter said. “We cannot afford to have barriers limiting our access to talent.”

So will women be required to be on the front lines? Carter said that military members had some choice. “People are assigned to missions, tasks and functions according to need as well as their capabilities,” he said. “And women will be subject to the same standard and rules that men will.”

This historic move is as a groundbreaking step that will serve to break down gender barriers in the Armed forces. President Barack Obama called it a “historic step forward.”

We are proud to see this monumental step.

Related reading: 

What it’s really like to be a woman in the military

The first female Army Rangers make history and inspire us completely

[Image via Twitter]