By Amie Parnes - 01/24/13 04:40 PM EST
President Obama "fully supports" the Pentagon’s decision to lift the ban on women in combat, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.
Speaking with reporters at the White House, Carney said Obama, who has discussed the issue with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in private meetings, has long believed that the move would be "appropriate."
"Despite the existence of these barriers ... women have fought and bled and died in Iraq and Afghanistan in uniform, and the president believes this is a very appropriate policy change," Carney added.
In a statement later Thursday, Obama said he had called Panetta “to express my strong support for this decision, which will strengthen our military, enhance our readiness, and be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.”
“As Commander in Chief, I am absolutely confident that — as with the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ — the professionalism of our armed forces will ensure a smooth transition and keep our military the very best in the world.”
Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the decision formally on Thursday afternoon.
The policy change, which was recommended by the Joint Chiefs, could open up 230,000 jobs that had previously been closed to female service members.
“Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love,” Obama said.
This story was updated at 2:33 p.m.