Undated_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.
The president says, quote, ``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.''
Fort Sill's Public Affairs Office released this statement on the Secretary of Defense's announcement.
"Because there are a lot of decision that are still to be made at the Secretary of Defense level, the successful integration of women into currently closed positions will take time to get right and requires the Department of Defense to be thoughtful and deliberate as the process unfolds. This deliberate approach to reducing gender-based barriers to women's service will provide the time necessary to integrate women into occupational fields so they can succeed and flourish. We need time to ensure that women are integrated in a way that maximizes the safety and privacy of all service members. So, it's possible that we won't see women in previously closed Field Artillery or Air Defense Artillery position until the SecDef's mandated time of 2016."