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The Navy is still trying to determine whether it will open the Naval Special Warfare Command, which includes the elite Navy SEALs, to women, said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “We have opened everything else,” said Mabus on Sept. 30. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directed the services to look at opening all combat jobs to women. Although Panetta’s directive allows the service leaders to seek an exemption if they determine some combat jobs should remain closed, Mabus said he agrees with the presumption “that everything will be opened.” He added, “If people can meet the qualifications, gender shouldn’t matter.” The Navy has allowed female officers to serve aboard ballistic missile submarines and plans to start putting women on the smaller attack subs, and Mabus just ordered that women be allowed to serve with the Riverine forces, which operate small, heavily armed boats in coastal and river missions. The Air Force faces a similar decision with its special operators. USAF's “battlefield airmen,” such as combat controllers, tactical control party members, and pararescuemen are exclusively male. (See also Women in Combat from the August 2013 issue of Air Force Magazine.)