Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), incoming ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today responded to the leaked news that the Department of Defense will lift the direct combat exclusion rule for women in the military.

“It is unacceptable that information on the Defense Department’s plans related to women in combat was leaked prior to Congress being briefed,” said Inhofe.  “As a result we don’t yet know the details of this announcement.  Based on my conversation today with Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, I believe that Secretary Panetta will provide specific direction to the services on how to evaluate and identify opportunities for women to further serve their country.  I do not believe this will be a broad opening of combat roles for women, because as the 2012 report indicated, there are ‘serious practical barriers which must be resolved so that the department can maximize the safety and privacy of all military members while maintaining military readiness.’ 

“I served on the House Armed Services Committee with Les Aspin who fathered this cause.  In 1994 as the Secretary of Defense, he opened opportunities for women to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified except units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct ground combat.  Since he opened these opportunities, women have demonstrated their abilities to serve with distinction, in some cases making the ultimate sacrifice for their country. For instance, women currently fly combat missions in tactical aircraft. As a flight instructor, I have flown with both men and women, and their skill sets are the same.”