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Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is moving to remove the military's longstanding ban on women in combat, according to senior defense officials. The groundbreaking move overturns a 1994 rule that prohibits women from holding positions in small ground combat units, and opens hundreds of thousands of front-line positions, as well as elite commando jobs. 

Some positions may open this year, while other special operations jobs will take awhile longer, the AP reports. High-level military officials have been ordered to present plans for implementing the change by May 15. The military has until 2016 to make special exceptions for positions it believes should remain closed to women.