GREEN BAY - It appears the military's ban on women fighting on the front lines on the ground, may be over.
Confirmation is expected Thursday from Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta.
Panetta's groundbreaking move could open up hundreds of thousands of front-line positions to women. However, it's getting mixed reviews.
Women make up 14 percent of the 1.4 million active service members. And soon, more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, could open up.
"Let's just open it up, make it based on performance. If the women can't meet the standards then they don't get to graduate from the program. But if they can meet the standards then we gain another soldier who is willing to serve this nation and willing to lay their lives down in a combat roll and that's good for our military," explained Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois.
Duckworth was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot and one of the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq.
The move overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.
It also expands the Pentagon's action nearly a year ago to open several thousand combat positions to women.
"War is not a pretty thing," said Retired Army Colonel Tim Lawrie. "I'm afraid they did not represent the people that know what it's really like."
Retired Army Colonel Tim Lawrie says he's not surprised by the decision.
However, with experience fighting on the front lines of Vietnam, the veteran living in Baileys Harbor questions not only the motive, but whether this was the right move all together.
"It's just a damn hard job. And I'm afraid is what we've done is taken this and made it into a social problem that we're forcing the military to comply with," Lawrie said.
The changes will not happen overnight.
Military officials say the services must now develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions.
Panetta is expected to make an official announcement Thursday.
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