"Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent. Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve," Obama wrote in a statement Thursday. "Together, we're going to make sure our military remains the finest fighting force in the history of the world, worthy of all our patriots who serve -- men and women."
Beginning in 2016, women will be eligible to serve in all combat jobs, opening up 213,600 male-only positions in 52 different specialties, including elite special operations units.
Carter vowed "there will be no exceptions" to the inclusive policy.
"To succeed in our mission of national defense, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country’s talents and skills," he said Thursday.
Read Obama's full statement below:
One of the qualities that makes America's armed forces the best in the world is that we draw on the talents and skills of our people. When we desegregated our military, it became stronger. In recent years, we ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allowed gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly -- and it's made our military stronger. Over recent decades, we've opened about 90 percent of military positions to women who time and again have proven that they, too, are qualified, ready and up to the task. In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our courageous women in uniform have served with honor, on the front lines -- and some have given their very lives.
Today, the Defense Department is taking another historic step forward by opening up the remaining 10 percent of military positions, including combat roles, to women. As Commander in Chief, I know that this change, like others before it, will again make our military even stronger. Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent. Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve. I know that, under the leadership of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford, our men and women in uniform will implement this transition -- as they have others -- in a responsible manner that maintains military readiness and the unparalleled professionalism and strength of our armed forces. Together, we're going to make sure our military remains the finest fighting force in the history of the world, worthy of all our patriots who serve -- men and women.
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