Rules on Women in Combat Likely to Change

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is expected to propose changes on Thursday to the current policy restricting women from certain combat roles, a senior defense official tells CNN.

Department of Defense officials are scheduled to hold an afternoon briefing revealing their plans as part of report being submitted to Congress.

The official declined to be named because no official announcement has been made, and would provide no further details on the changes.

The current policy, in place since 1994, effectively restricts women from serving in small infantry or other ground units directly involved in combat.

According to Pentagon statistics, more than 140 women have lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 860 have been wounded.

“Women may not be assigned to any unit below brigade level when the units primary mission is direct combat on the ground,” another Pentagon official e-mailed CNN in explaining the current policy. “The policy has long and successfully balanced opportunities for women to pursue challenging careers, despite a clear limit on any assignment to ground combat units.”

But advocates, as well as some senior American military commanders, have increasingly called for all ground combat jobs to be open to women since they already serve on the front lines in patrols, and in other units in which they are risking their lives, such as military police and security units.

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent