Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.
Some jobs might open as soon as this year. Assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALS and the Army's Delta Force, might take longer.
The announcement on Panetta's decision is not expected until today, so the official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Joe Biden is thanking Democratic supporters in the afterglow of President Barack Obama's second inauguration, dropping plenty of hints that he might try to cement Obama's legacy with his own presidential campaign in 2016.
Biden packed his schedule with events and receptions attended by party insiders surrounding Obama's inauguration, giving him a chance to thank prominent lawmakers and donors and plant the seeds for a future bid. It comes on the heels of the vice president's prominent role in brokering a compromise on the fiscal cliff standoff with Congress and developing gun-control legislation after December's deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut.
Likening sexual assault in the Air Force's ranks to a cancer, the service's top officer resolved Wednesday to tackle the problem by screening personnel more carefully and putting an end to bad behaviors such as binge drinking that can lead to misconduct.
But Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, underscored the challenge by telling a House oversight committee that the service recorded a disturbing number of reports of sexual assault last year even as it worked to curb misconduct in the wake of a sex scandal at its training headquarters in Texas. Most difficult, Welsh said, is transforming a culture in which victims are often reluctant to report what happened because of guilt, shame or fear they won't be believed.
Venezuela's vice president said Wednesday that the government has uncovered a plot by unidentified groups to attack him and another senior leader.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro did not give details about the purported plot but said there are groups that have infiltrated the country and the authorities believe they intended to attack him and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, and then try to blame one and the other.
Maduro announced the purported plot while announcing that he would soon travel to Cuba to see ailing President Hugo Chavez.