Washington - Today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce the lifting of a 1994 ban on women serving in combat.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs could open as soon as this year; others may take longer.
Although other nations have integrated military personnel, for the U.S. this will be the first fully integrated military in history.
"They've proven themselves time and time again over the last twelve years,” said U.S. Army Gen. Peter Chirelli, “Finally they're going to get recognition, which is key."
"My generation of women took the doors off the hinges, so these women could have a chance at serving their country in anything that they were qualified for," said Air Force veteran Kimberly Olson.
Although Secretary Panetta wants plans by May, senior commanders will have three years to seek special exceptions if they believe certain roles should remain closed to women.