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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon revealed plans today that will allow women to move into select combat positions following the repeal of the ban on women serving in combat units. Women will be able to start training for certain positions as soon as next month and will be required to meet the same physical and mental standards as men.
"The plans submitted by the armed forces allowing military women to compete for select combat positions are a move in the right direction," said Vania Leveille, American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel. "Secretary Hagel must ensure that qualified women can compete for all, not just some, of the more than 200,000 positions that are currently closed to them. Women who can meet the standards necessary to get the job done should be given the same opportunities as their male counterparts."
The ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California, and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP filed a lawsuit against the department last year challenging the combat ban on behalf of the Service Women's Action Network and four women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Shortly before the department's response was due in court, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the repeal of the ban.
Since the repeal was announced, the service branches have opened some new positions to women, but more than 200,000 positions remain closed. The lawsuit remains active, and, at the parties' agreement, the department has been given an extension of time in which to respond.