The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, multiple officials told CNN on Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement Thursday and notify Congress of the planned change in policy, the officials said.
"We will eliminate the policy of 'no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,'" a senior defense official said.
The officials cautioned, however, that "not every position will open all at once on Thursday." Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an "assessment phase," in which each branch of service will examine all its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable for integrating them.
This morning on "Early Start," Barbara Starr reports on this historic change to the nation's military.
READ MORE: Military to open combat jobs to women
For the first time ever, the US Marine Corps is allowing women to train as infantry combat officers. It's a move that could open the door for women to fight on the front lines.
Not everyone is on board with this move. One Marine Corps captain warns that women are too weak for the battlefield and putting them on the front lines could damage our military. And, she's a woman, who served in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
This morning on "Early Start," Captain Katie Petronio talks with Ashleigh Banfield about her experience on the battlefield and why she doesn't think women should be in the infantry.