According to senior officials, women are now going to be side-by-side with men in dangerous combat situations.Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lifted the 1994 ban that kept women from serving on the front lines in smaller units. This effectively clears the way for women to join the Navy SEALS, Delta Force and other commando units.

In simple terms, everywhere men are going into live, active fighting situations, women will be allowed as well. Newsmax reported Wednesday:

A senior military official says the services will develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year. Assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALS and the Army's Delta Force, may take longer.

The official said the military chiefs must report back to Panetta with their initial implementation plans by May 15. The announcement on Panetta's decision is not expected until Thursday, so the official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Panetta's move expands the Pentagon's action nearly a year ago to open about 14,500 combat positions to women, nearly all of them in the Army. This decision could open more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, to women.

Due to personnel necessities, women serving as medics, military police and intelligence workers were often assigned to units on the front line, but were not considered part of the force that actively engage hostile enemies. This ruling will completely change that. Women make up about 14 percent of the active military personnel  in the U.S. military.

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