Washington, DC - Pentagon officials announced Wednesday that after nearly two decades, the ban on women serving in direct combat roles is being lifted.
Women already make up 15 % of active duty military personnel.
During the decade long fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the front lines of war have been blurred. Officials say 152 women have died in those two conflicts.
Under the new policy, women will now be able to officially serve in infantry units and special forces.
"If they can meet the qualifications for the job, they should have the right to serve regardless of creed, color, gender or sexual orientation," said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Before the announcement, an ABC News Washington Post poll found that about 75% of Americans support women serving in combat.