House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the military's announcement that it is actively mapping out how to integrate women into combat roles:
"I applaud Defense Secretary Hagel for continuing to follow through on the process started by former Secretary Panetta to allow capable women to serve their country in combat roles. It is high time that our military catches up with the rest of society and understands that women are every bit as capable as men. As the military begins to map out how and when women will be integrated into combat roles, today's announcement is a step in the right direction, but it is not a victory for equality yet. More work remains to be done.
"Building on the success of the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' today's announcement also reflects a growing understanding that it is not effective or appropriate to judge an individual's capability to serve solely based on their gender or lifestyle. Arbitrarily preventing half of the population from serving in certain roles is not just discriminatory, it's bad policy. Until women are allowed to serve in combat positions, they will never advance to the highest ranks in the US military.
"Individuals should be judged based on their capabilities, not their gender. For years, women have proven that if given the chance they are just as capable as men. They have bravely fought and died for our country. They have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are fully capable of serving our nation and serving our nation well.
"Moving forward, it is important to ensure that capable and qualified women have every opportunity to serve in the same roles as their male counterparts. I look forward to working with the Department of Defense to ensure these new standards are effectively developed and implemented."