FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - The U.S. Department of Defense announced Thursday that it would lift restrictions on women serving in combat roles.
Women account for 15 percent of active duty troops in the U.S. military.
Despite the ban, which dates back to 1994, 152 women have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"If they can meet the qualifications for the job, they should have the right to serve," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says of the Pentagon's change. "Regardless of creed, color, gender or sexual orientation."
Under the new policy, women will now be able to serve in infantry units and special forces.
Concordia Lutheran High School has had an Army Junior ROTC since the school opened in 1935. The course is designed to teach male and female students, many of whom will go into the military after graduation, an array of leadership skills.
Junior ROTC teacher, SFC Alan Conrad, who served in the Army's special forces, says the topic of women in combat does come up in the program.
"I think that it is a very good opportunity for some women," Concordia Lutheran JROTC Cadet Major Erin Garrison says. "We do have different talents than some men. But I also think that women are built differently, they're not meant to go through what men go through in combat."
"I think maybe that addition in the field would be really good for caring for the soldiers," Concordia Lutheran JROTC Battalion Commander Zac Heck says. "Just from my experience in high school, I see women are definitely, I would say, more caring than some of the men."
Theoretically, qualified women could be placed into combat situatins as early as this year. But experts say extra training could equal two or three years before women in combat becomes a reality.
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