The US Defense Department has decided to abolish a 1994 rule excluding women from combat, opening hundreds of thousands of frontline jobs to servicewomen, reported the American Forces Press Service, Pentagon's information wing, on Wednesday.
The report quoted a senior defense official as saying that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to announce the lifting of the direct combat ban on women in the military. But it provided no further details and did not reveal when the announcement might take place.
The policy change, which overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to direct ground combat positions, will begin a process in which US military services develop plans to implement the decision, the official said.
The move will expand the Pentagon's action last February to partially lift the ban, which opened up about 14,500 Army positions to women. The move last year opened positions such as tank mechanic and field artillery radar operator, which previously closed to women.
The decision to completely overturn the ban would open more than 230,000 jobs -- many in Army and Marine infantry units -- to women.
Women comprise 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel in the United States.