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As he prepared to step down from office, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a surprising announcement: that the longstanding restriction on women in combat would be lifted. In declaring the new policy, Panetta observed that women have “shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles.” Allowing women access to combat positions, he explained, will help “ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.”



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