women in combat

In July, Michelle Howard made history when she was made the first woman to earn the rank of four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy. She's also the first African-American woman to earn this rank.

Rising through the Navy, she found herself being asked to do all sorts of things on top of her day job — talking about women's policies, attending evening events, essentially becoming a spokesperson for women in the military. She says during her first tour in the Pentagon as a lieutenant commander, she called her mother to complain.

In spring 2001, three women enlisted in the Indiana National Guard. Each had her own idea of what a stint in the Guard might mean — free education, a sense of purpose, extra money. But just months after they signed up, the Sept. 11 attacks occurred and what they thought would be a couple days of drills each month turned into long overseas deployments.

roy blunt
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The pentagon announced Thursday the lifting of a ban on women serving in combat. With the policy reversal, women will have the opportunity to serve in combat if they meet certain "gender-neutral standards."

Alexis Grimou [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Pentagon announced Thursday that women can serve in combat positions. But take a look through history -- and religious traditions -- and you'll see that female fighters are nothing new.