The military’s highest-ranking officials are preparing to decide whether to open all combat arms jobs to servicewomen. In January 2013, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced plans to lift the military’s policy excluding women in combat arms roles. The combat-arms field encompassres roughly 300,000 jobs that include infantry specialties historically closed to female service members.

“We've really tried to give them the time that they need to finish their studies,” said Juliet Beyler, director of officer and enlisted personnel management for the Pentagon. If a service wishes to waive the force-wide policy, they must submit a formal waiver for review this fall by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, so it can be accepted or rejected before the new policy takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The waiver request must be “based on a rigorous analysis of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to do the job,” said Beyler, reports the Military Times. “What it all boils down to is, at the end of the day, what is needed to do the job? And if somebody can do the job, they will get the respect from their peers that is necessary.”