El secretario de Defensa de Estados Unidos, Leon Panetta, retirará la prohibición militar para que las mujeres sirvan en combate, abriendo cientos de miles de posiciones en el frente y posiblemente puestos de comando élite después de más de una década en guerra, dijeron oficiales del Pentágono.


El cambio revolucionario, recomendado por el Estado Mayor Conjunto, anula un fallo de 1994 que prohibía que las mujeres pudiesen ser asignadas a unidades de combate terrestre más pequeñas.


La decisión de Panetta da a los servicios militares hasta enero de 2016 para buscar excepciones especiales si ellos creen que algunas posiciones deban seguir vetadas a las mujeres.


Un alto funcionario militar dijo que los servicios desarrollarán planes para permitir que las mujeres busquen posiciones de combate. Algunos puestos podrían abrirse incluso este año. Las asignaciones para otros, como las fuerzas de operaciones especiales como los SEALS de la Armada y la Fuerza Delta del Ejército, podrían llevar más tiempo.


El funcionario dijo que para el 15 de mayo los jefes militares deben reportar a Panetta sus planes iniciales de implementación.


En vista de que el anuncio de la decisión de Panetta se espera hasta el jueves, el oficial habló con la condición de no ser identificado.


La decisión de Panetta extiende la acción del Pentágono de hace casi un año para abrir unas 14.500 posiciones de combate para mujeres, casi todas ellas en el Ejército. Esta decisión podría abrir más de 230.000 puestos a mujeres en las unidades de Infantería del Ejército y de la Marina.


En años recientes las necesidades de la guerra empujaron a las mujeres a puestos médicos, policiales y de inteligencia militar que algunas veces venían aparejados —aunque no formalmente asignados— a unidades en el frente.


Las mujeres constituyen 14% de los 1,4 millones de militares en activo.

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