All U.S. military combat jobs, including infantry units and special operations, will be open to women beginning next year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday.
Carter said the decision was part of his commitment to build a force of the future. The ban will be lifted in 30 days, he said, and the services have until April 1 to accommodate women in all roles.
“In the 21st Century, that requires drawing strength from the broadest pool” possible, he said, adding that the Pentagon can’t successfully defend the nation by eliminating half of the U.S. population from combat roles.
The decision was immediately blasted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and a member of the Armed Services Committee as a politically motivated move that will erode the ability of the military to fight. Hunter pointed to a study done by the Marine Corps that showed that infantry units with women performed worse than all-male ones.