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      Reversal of ban against women in combat roles central to lawsuit

      RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Two female Army Reserve officers have sued the U.S. Department of Defense and the Army in a bid to reverse military policies banning women from serving in combat roles.

      The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accuses the government of violating the constitutional rights of servicewomen by excluding them from certain ground combat units and other positions on the basis of their gender.

      Command Sgt. Maj. Jane Baldwin and Col. Ellen Haring allege the policies have hindered their career advancement.

      The lawsuit names Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Army John McHugh and two other officials. There was no immediate comment from the Defense Department.

      The legal effort stems from an initiative by a University of Virginia professor and several law students.