SPEARFISH - The Pentagon's announcement lifting the ban on women in combat units will affect the South Dakota National Guard - though some women in the state have already seen their fair share of combat.

The Black Hills Pioneer reports that 36 women currently serving in the state's National Guard have earned combat action badges, which are issued to soldiers who have been in combat.

Among them is Sgt. 1st Class Kelley Crane, who served in Afghanistan as part of the 109th Engineer Group. Crane says she supports allowing women in combat roles because many women in the military already are fighting alongside men.

The South Dakota Army National Guard has about 3,200 soldiers, including about 500 women.

The ban on women in combat units was lifted last month.

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