Panetta to lift ban on women in front-line combat

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will today formally announce an end to the military's ban on woman serving in units whose main job is to engage in combat, according to US officials.

It is a move that could open thousands of front-line role to female service members for the first time.

Outgoing US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta
Outgoing US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce the landmark decision to end the ban Credit: JIR/AC

It follows the removal of another societal barrier in the US armed forces in 2011, when the Pentagon ended its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

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US lifts women combat ban

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 will make a formally announcement later this evening.