Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce a shift in the policy that barred women from serving in certain units. The Pentagon will allow women to serve in combat units reversing a 1994 rule that prevented female soldiers from certain smaller combat units.

The policy shift will allow women to serve in smaller front-line combat units. There is the potential to also allow women in the elite units, such as the SEALS or Delta. The change will be implemented over time and each service will have until January 2016 to provide proof that some positions should remain off-limits.

Since 1994, woman have served in combat units, but were limited to brigade-level or higher. These units included higher command and support staff, and tend to be farther from the front.

The policy shift at the Pentagon comes at the urging of the Obama Administration, which as championed equal rights for all.