The U.S. Department of Defense is ending its ban on women serving in direct combat roles, opening hundreds of thousands of military jobs to female troops in the biggest move yet toward equal opportunity in the armed services. President Barack Obama hailed the decision made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the recommendation of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.The changes won't be immediate, and they may not wipe away all limits on women in combat. Ending the U.S. ban will open as many as 237,000 positions to women by January 2016, the date set for final implementation, according to a defense official who asked not to be identified. The military services have been directed to complete plans by May 15, the official said.Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario's "Women at War" looks at female U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan. "If a woman wants to be a war photographer, she should. It's important," she told the New York Times after being freed from captivity in Libya along with three other journalists.Left: U.S. Marine Captain Emily Naslund patrols Soorkano, a village in Helmand, Afghanistan. Soorkano is a former Taliban stronghold and has since offered to contribute men from the village to the local police force.