“Valor knows no gender”:
Declaring that it would strengthen both the military and the country, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday lifted a ban on women in combat and said that it was “the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation.”
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, the secretary vowed that the decision would not compromise military readiness and pledged that the armed forces would not lower standards for service, such as for physical fitness.
“If they can meet the qualifications for the job,” he said, “then they should have the right to serve.”
President Barack Obama said in a statement that the decision would “be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality,” themes that he sounded three days earlier in his second inaugural address.