Women who rode into Iraq during the 2003 Coalition invasion or who withstood on-base mortar attacks that killed other U.S. troops raucously cheered news of the impending lift of the female-combat ban, shouting the same three spirited words.

“It’s about time!” said Laura Cannon, a 2001 West Point graduate who rolled into Iraq with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, spending seven months there. “Women have been on the ‘front lines,’ per se, for years. Now they’re getting credit and authorization that is long overdue. The landscape of combat has changed so much that front lines are ambiguous, and frankly, what I believe to be an obsolete concept.” …

“This decision means the military is finally removing that useless ‘attached, but not assigned’ verbiage that meant absolutely nothing on the field, with the boots on the ground,” she added. Weckerlein worked as an Air Force combat correspondent, traveling throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, documenting the missions of Air Force joint terminal air controllers and Army infantry soldiers at remote provincial reconstruction team locations and at forward operating bases. In other words, she shadowed military men who were doing “male only” jobs.

Women now compose about 15 percent of the U.S. armed forces.