Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the Defense Department would lift the ban on women serving in combat:
"Today's announcement marks a significant step forward for equality in our nation, for the strength of our military, and for any woman willing and able to serve in the United States Armed Forces. For decades, women have made extraordinary contributions to our security, our national defense, and our military's missions overseas; now, women will be able to build on that legacy of achievement and sacrifice on the front lines of battle.
"This decision is long overdue. It ensures that our leaders on the battlefield judge the soldiers in their command based on merit, not gender -- on their abilities to do the job and defend our country, and nothing else. Alongside the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, it reflects the Obama Administration's commitment to progress for our troops, removing yet another discriminatory barrier to service for the brave men and women ready to put their lives on the line on behalf of our safety and security.
"The doors of opportunity will soon be open to all American service women. Not only will they be able to engage in combat, but they will be able to reach the highest ranks in the military. Their strength in theaters of war is a source of strength and patriotism to us all. I commend President Obama, Secretary Panetta, and the leadership of the Defense Department for taking this critical step to move our country forward."