Nightly News   |  June 18, 2013

‘Days of Rambo are over’: Women to enter combat roles

Physical standards will not be lowered for women, who will be required to do the same tasks as the men they work alongside. Women have already been battle-tested under enemy fire in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some say if women are given the chance, they’ll make the cut. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>> and the pentagon has announced a timetable for one of the biggest policy changes ever undertaken by the u.s. military . integrating women into front line combat positions over the next several years, including some of the very top flight units. our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski has more on that story tonight.

>> sound off --

>> it's the ultimate, all boys cl club. [ gunfire ]

>> reporter: the grueling, physically demanding training to become a navy s.e.a.l. has always been closed to women . that could change.

>> we're looking for smart, qualified operators. you know, there's just -- there's a new dynamic, the days of rambo are over.

>> reporter: military services have been ordered to open nearly 240,000 combat related jobs to women in the next three years, which could include front line combat roles in special forces like the army rangers and navy s.e.a.l.s. that could be a tough challenge. physical standards will not be lowered for women .

>> load the tank round has got to be one that's done by a male tank gunner or a female tank gunner. we don't have different size rounds for them.

>> actually more concerned with the men, and their reaction to women in their formations, quite frankly.

>> reporter: women have already been battle tested under enemy fire in iraq and afghanistan. 150 u.s. service women have been killed in combat in the past 12 years. army first lieutenant audrey griffith has little doubt. we first met her last summer, when she passed the army's course for combat engineers , one of the military's toughest combat training schools. she believes if women are given the chance, they'll make the cut.

>> i think if you just keep letting women get the same training as our male peers, there's not going to be a question of, is it a male or a female.

>> reporter: officials stress that no final decisions have been made. and it could still be years before women join the combat ranks in any numbers. as for first lieutenant griffith, she's deployed today on the front lines of southern afghanistan as a full pledged combat engineer . proof again that many women are already up to the challenge. brian?

>> jim miklaszewski at the pentagon