Pentagon chief lifts ban on women in combat

(Photo: Paula Bronstein / Getty Images)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday lifted a ban on women in combat, saying that it was “the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation, and every citizen who can meet the qualifications of service should have that opportunity.”

"If they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve," he declared.

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Defense chief Panetta to clear women for combat roles

(Photo: Karim Sahib / AFP - Getty Images file)

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to clear the way for women to serve in many combat positions in the U.S. armed forces, a senior defense official told NBC News on Wednesday afternoon.

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Obama taps ‘American patriot’ Hagel for Pentagon job

(Photo: Charles Dharapak / AP)

President Barack Obama named his choices for two of the nation’s prominent national security posts Monday, teeing up a likely confirmation struggle over his pick for the Secretary of Defense, a position that’s historically drawn overwhelming bipartisan support.

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Defense chief: Intel ‘raises serious concerns’ about Syria chemical weapons

(Photo: Aref Hretani / Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday that intelligence about Syrian chemical weapons “raises serious concerns” that the regime of Bashar Assad may use them against the country’s own citizens. Panetta repeated the stern warning issued earlier this week by President Barack Obama that “there will be consequences of the Assad regime make the terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people.”