It's shaping up to be a big day for women in the military—the AP just sent out a blast announcing that the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has removed the military ban on women in combat, which basically opens up thousands of front line positions for women, which can lead to better career advancement opportunities, better pay, and better pensions.

The announcement comes after four female veterans and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the government last November, arguing that women are already serving in combat zones and that formally barring women from combat because of their gender violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, in other awesome lady-in-the-military news, a US Air Force General has publicly likened sex assaults on women in the Air Force to cancer:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Likening sexual assault in the Air Force's ranks to a cancer, the service's top officer resolved Wednesday to tackle the problem by screening personnel more carefully and putting an end to bad behaviors like binge drinking that can lead to misconduct.

But Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, underscored the challenge by telling a House oversight committee that the service recorded a disturbing number of reports of sexual assault last year even as it worked to curb misconduct in the wake of a sex scandal at its training headquarters in Texas. Dozens of young female recruits and airmen at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio were victimized by their instructors who sexually harassed, improperly touched or raped them.

... "Why, on what was undoubtedly the worst day of a victim's life, did they not turn to us for help?" Welsh said during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. "We are missing something fundamental in the human-to-human interaction that will allow them to feel safe enough to come to us and report."