The Pentagon has officially scrapped the military's ban imposed in 1994 on woman serving in front-line combat roles. The outgoing US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta formally announced the change today.
Speaking at a press conference United States Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said that women are "an integral part of our ability to perform" military mission, he added that, "not everyone can be a combat soldier, but everyone should have the chance."
There are hopes the move could help women get past the 'brass ceiling' in the US military - which has seen few women rise to the highest ranks without combat experience.
The President also lent his support to the change:
The Ministry of Defence has said that there are no plans to follow the US lead. In the UK, women are currently banned from close-combat roles.
They allowed to undertake posts in areas such as logistics, artillery and engineering, but they cannot join the infantry or serve in small tactical combat arms teams where they are required to be in close contact with and kill the enemy face-to-face.