WASHINGTON (NBC) - Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to formally announce the groundbreaking decision to allow women in the military to serve in combat. This would end a 19-year ban on women to fight from the frontline.

The lift on the ban could open up 237,000 jobs for women, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

"The extended endurance that is needed (could be an issue). As I say, we have enough problems sometimes with men," said Retired Sergeant Major Mark O'Laughlin of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Supporters argue women are already in combat, in a way. In the past ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, 150 women have died in battle and nearly a thousand have been wounded, including Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. The Democrat lost both legs flying helicopters in Iraq.

Women are expected to still be banned from specific military positions, such as navy seals and army rangers. The military has until mid-May to submit recommendations and until 2016 to enact the decision.

Read or Share this story: