Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially lifted the ban barring military women from serving in direct combat.  The national papers weighed in this morning, all in support of the decision. That is, except for the Wall Street Journal, which is thus far moot on the issue.

USA Today: “Critics argue that standards will in fact be lowered, that the presence of women will create awkward situations and relationship problems, and that military readiness will suffer. Couched in slightly different terms, the same sort of arguments were raised when the military was racially integrated, and more recently when gays were allowed to serve openly.

“None of the dire predictions has materialized. Over the years, the military has become a model of opportunity for almost everyone. With women getting their shot at any job for which they can qualify, the “almost” can finally be dropped.”

New York Times: “The Pentagon’s decision to end its ban on women in combat is a triumph for equality and common sense. By opening infantry, artillery and other battlefield jobs to all qualified service members regardless of sex, the military is showing that categorical discrimination has no place in a society that honors fairness and equal opportunity.”

Washington Post: “Women in the U.S. military have been on the front lines of two wars. They’ve engaged the enemy, suffered grievous injury and been awarded medals for valor; 152 of them have died. So the Defense Department’s decision to lift its official ban on women in combat is, in some respects, an acknowledgement of reality. Nonetheless, it is a historic move — both sobering and exhilarating — that affirms the importance of women in defending this country and removes barriers that have impeded them in that work.”