White House Says Obama Supports Women In Combat
President Barack Obama says allowing women to serve in combat marks another step toward the country's founding ideals of fairness and equality.
Obama says in a written statement he expressed strong support for the decision to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who lifted the combat ban Thursday.
Obama says he is confident the decision — coupled with the recent repeal of the ban on gays in the military — will strengthen the U.S. military.
The president says, quote, "Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger, with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love. "
Dempsey: Sex assault, combat ban on women linked
The nation's top military officer says he believes the rise in sexual assaults in the military is linked to a longstanding ban on women serving in combat roles.
Gen. Martin Dempsey is chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He said Thursday the assault problem is due partly to the military's separate classes of personnel -- male 'warriors' versus the rest of the force, including women.
Dempsey says the sexual assault problem is more complicated than that, but he indicates the disparity between the roles of men and women in the military has created a psychology that lends itself to disrespect for women.
Treating the genders equally, he says, is more likely to lead people to treat each other equally.
Ex-POW Lynch: Rule on women in combat 'good news'
Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch calls it good news for the U.S. military that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says women can serve in combat roles.
The West Virginia resident says women have long been integral to victories in the fight for freedom.
Lynch was 19 when she was captured after her Army unit took a wrong turn and came under attack in Iraq in 2003. She was rescued after nine days in captivity.
Lynch urges Americans to support military men and women, and to push U.S. officials to ensure they have proper training and equipment.
Panetta says allowing women to fill combat roles will strengthen the U.S. military's ability to win wars.
But military leaders must decide which, if any, jobs will still be open only to men.
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