EL PASO TX — Thursday, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially ended a 19-year-old ban on women serving in combat positions.
The top commander at Fort Bliss reacted to the decision, saying it's simply the right thing to do.The landmark decision comes after a decade at war where women have demonstrated heroism alongside their male counterparts.
"If you object to you know a woman being next to u who is soldier, then its time for you to leave, because we don't have time for that in the army," said Major General Dana Pittard.
Major General Dana Pittard shared his reaction to any naysayers that don't agree with the Pentagon's decision to lift the ban on women in combat positions.
"It's the right thing to do, that all units should be open up any soldier who can do the job,” said Pittard.
But women already serve right alongside men. Pittard says 15% of all soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan are female.
"We have female soldiers in harm's way every single day,” said Pittard.
Last July, six soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. At the memorial for the fallen, we spoke with Lars Alecksen, the father of 18-year-old Erica Alecksen, one of the six who died.
Lars Alecksen, wore the patriotic his daughter gave him as he spoke about her memory.
"She loved life, I'm a tell you, she was a very special girl. Guess there isn't one thing u miss, it's the whole package.You know 18 years of molding someone into being a good person and believing in themselves and getting ready for real life, just the conversation, just being with her that's what I'm going to miss," said Alecksen.
Still, some people have mixed reaction to women being able to hold combat jobs like tank commanders, armor military and infantry.
"I don't doubt they can do what we do in physical ability, me being a scout, I just don't recommend women do that,” said one combat soldier.
A resident of El Paso said he felt women can perform in the same capacity as men in combat.
"Yes, some even better or the same, its the same.”
General Pittard says everyone should be treated equally.
"If your daughter is in the army, then she has an equal chance just like anyone else in the army to progress," said Pittard.Pittard says the army will start enforcing this new policy in increments and should do so by 2016.