AZ National Guard supports lifting ban on women in combat - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

AZ National Guard supports lifting ban on women in combat

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The Arizona National Guard said it fully supports Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat.

They released the following statement Friday afternoon.

"I am supportive of the decision made by the Secretary of Defense," said Maj. Gen. Hugo E. Salazar, the Adjutant General of Arizona and commander of the Arizona National Guard. "This new policy will serve to strengthen the Guard, as well as the Active and Reserve Forces, and will ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender."

"Under the guidance from DoD, approximately 237,000 positions will be opened to women following service reviews and the congressional notification procedures established by law. Implementation of this change is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2016, once Secretary Panetta and the military departments are able to complete plans."

"The Arizona Army National Guard currently has two male-exclusive combat units - the 1-158th Infantry Battalion and the 819th Sapper Company, which is scheduled to depart for Afghanistan on Sunday. Positions within the two combat units will be reassessed as implementation guidelines are provided by U.S. Army leadership."

"The change in DoD rules will potentially open 793 positions to all serving Arizonans and enhance a wider variety of jobs made available to females."

"Of the 7,100 Arizona Army National Guard members deployed since 9/11, roughly 14% were female."

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