Advocates for equality in the services will be pleased. On Capitol Hill today, retired Chief Master Sgt. Cindy McNally, a victim of sexual assault in the military, said placing women in combat roles would help equalize the services and actually cut down on sexual assaults, which have emerged as a major problem in the military.
"For larger solutions, we need to look at integrating women completely into the armed force," she said. "Remove the combat exclusion policy. Then, we will be a fully integrated force. Being able to do the job should be the standard, not whether you are male or female. I believe that, as leaders, we took our eye off the ball. We enabled a climate where our troops became vulnerable."
But the move is not universally popular among women in uniform, who cite real-world concerns about the physical requirements that could be necessary to be a female frontline service member.
A female Army officer who spoke with ABC News on condition on anonymity pointed out that senior leaders feel compelled to open job positions to show how progressive they are. However, this officer noted, "every female troop I know (over the age of 25) says publicly, 'Sure, open them up!' And privately, 'But not for me personally. I know I don't have the brute strength required and I would be crushed to let down my colleagues -- so, no way, no thanks.'"
In September 2011 the Obama administration ended the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military after Congress repealed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Law in December 2010.