Women in the military will no longer be banned from serving in combat. According to Fox News, ABC News and CNN among others.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will lift a longstanding ban on women serving in combat, according to senior defense officials.
The services have until this May to come up with a plan to implement the change, according to a Defense Department official.
That means the changes could come into effect as early as May. The services will have until January 2016 to complete the implementation of the changes.
The military services will also have until January 2016 to seek waivers for certain jobs -- but those waivers will require a personal approval from the secretary of defense and will have to be based on rationales other than the direct combat exclusion rule.
The move to allow women in combat, first reported by the Associated Press, was not expected this week, although there has been a concerted effort by the Obama administration to further open up the armed forces to women.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended in January to Secretary Panetta that the direct combat exclusion rule should be lifted.
"I can confirm media reports that the secretary and the chairman are expected to announce the lifting of the direct combat exclusion rule for women in the military," said a senior Defense Department official. "This policy change will initiate a process whereby the services will develop plans to implement this decision, which was made by the secretary of defense upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
CNN reports officials caution that “not every position will open all at once on Thursday.” Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can integrate them.
Fox reports women comprise 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel.