WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says allowing women to serve in combat marks another step toward the country's founding ideals of fairness and equality.
Obama says in a written statement he expressed strong support for the decision to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who lifted the combat ban Thursday.
Obama says he is confident the decision - coupled with the recent repeal of the ban on gays in the military - will strengthen the U.S. military.
"Today, by moving to open more military positions - including ground combat units - to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens," the President said in a written statement. "This milestone reflects the courageous and patriotic service of women through more than two centuries of American history and the indispensable role of women in today's military. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, including more than 150 women who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, patriots whose sacrifices show that valor knows no gender."
The president added, "Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger, with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love. "
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