Pentagon to Lift Ban on Women in Combat

Military services will have until 2016 to implement the historic changes.
2:23 | 01/23/13

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Transcript for Pentagon to Lift Ban on Women in Combat
We begin with groundbreaking news, changing centuries of tradition in america. Late today, the u.S. Military announced an end to the ban of women in combat. Now, ready to accept women on the frontlines, fighting side-by-side with men. But what happened? Who about all those objections over all those years and what are the troops saying privately tonight? Abc's david kerley starts us off. David? Reporter: Good evening, diane. This is a remarkable development, even though some will argue it is a long time in coming. It is a stunning turnaround. A unanimous vote by the country's top generals, which, the defense secretary will accept, to remove the ban on women serving in direct combat roles. They've proven themselves time and time again after the last 12 years. And finally, they're going to get the recognition, which is key. Reporter: It will be the first fully integrated military in america's history. But without discernible front lines in the wars of the last decade, women did serve in combat roles in iraq and afghanistan. They've been donning flak jackets and ended up in the middle of fire fights. Taking fire everywhere. I just remember the bullets going by me and hitting the ground beside me. I shot one guy, saw him fall. Reporter: Lian hester was the first woman since world war ii to receive the silver star. Helicopter pie lot tammy duckworth lost both of her legs in combat. I think america's daughters are just as capable as her sons are. Reporter: While an abc news poll showed three-quarters of americans support women in combat, not all men serving agree. A young enlisted soldier tells abc news that come in direct combat will croat, quote, sexual tension, which can create a distraction that can be life or death. He added, women are designed to love and nurture. Men are designed to hunt and kill. You moron. I am here to stay. Reporter: And what about gi jane, women in special forces? The military will give some units the ability to ask to exclude women. But the head of special forces told our martha raddatz more than a year ago, it's time. As soon as policy permits it, we will be ready to go down that road. Reporter: Just two months ago, four women sued the pentagon to get on the battlefield. Now, they may get their chance. We certainly want to see this executed responsibly but in a reasonable time frame. So, I hope that it doesn't get dragged out. Reporter: This historic announcement will be made tomorrow by the defense secretary. It could be implemented as early starting in may. Fully implemented by 2016, men and women serving in those come bat positions, diane.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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