The first women to pass the Army's elite Ranger training, Capt. Kristen Griest (left) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver (right), will receive their Ranger tabs when they graduate Friday. Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Marine Lance Cpls. Julia Carroll (left) and Paula Pineda lift "Carl" — a 220-pound test dummy — during training in March in California. Female Marines have completed months of training and are now waiting to hear whether they will be allowed to serve in combat roles. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Sgt. Cassie McDole sits in an AAV. Arezou Rezvani/NPR hide caption

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First Lt. Ashley White was one of some 55 to 60 women selected for cultural support teams that deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. She did not make it home. She was the first woman to die and be honored alongside the Army Rangers with whom she served. Courtesy of the White Family hide caption

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Female and male Marines prepare for a live-fire exercise at Twentynine Palms, a training camp in the Mojave Desert. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Katie Gorz (left) performs the ammo can lift next to male Marines as they go through the combat fitness test. The Marine Corps is experimenting with inserting some women into combat infantry roles that have historically been limited to men. At Camp Lejeune, female Marines are undergoing the same training as their male counterparts for combat arms. Travis Dove for NPR hide caption

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Women in the U.S. military will be integrated into front-line combat units by 2016, the Pentagon says. Here, female Marine recruits stand in formation during pugil stick training in boot camp earlier this year at Parris Island, S.C. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Female soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division train on a firing range in Fort Campbell, Ky., in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan. The Pentagon announced Thursday that women will no longer be banned from combat roles. Mark Humphrey/AP hide caption

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Hospital Corpsman Shannon Crowley, with a Marine Corps. Female Engagement Team, in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, in November 2010. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images hide caption

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in McKinney, Texas, on Wednesday. Tom Pennington/Getty Images hide caption

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American soldiers Kris Kuntz (left) and Hayley Barner in Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, last October. Tauseef Mustafa /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The Two-Way

Women In Combat: Inevitable?

Proposed new rules wouldn't let women serve "in combat," but would formalize what's already been happening — the assigning of women to key roles near the front lines.

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