According to the results of a Rasmussen Poll, 54 percent of Americans support placing women in the front lines of combat. That would include service as Green Berets or Navy SEALs, as long as the women were able to pass the same physical tests as men. According to the poll, more than one in five Americans mistakenly believes women are already allowed to serve on the front lines of battle.
The Department’s focus is to ensure personnel are assigned to units and positions that maximize their potential based on military necessity and each Service member’s ability, and not constrained by gender restrictions where possible. The Services support the establishment of gender-neutral occupational standards; however, they
require sufficient time to complete a thorough analysis of job-related physical requirements as they pertain to the capabilities expected of Service members. These standards will help determine which specific positions presently excluded under the special operations and physical standards criteria are suitable for general assignment of both genders.
The pressure on the military to change comes principally from the fact, as outlined in expert studies and government reviews, that women are being excluded from the top ranks, where those without combat ribbons generally need not apply. The hesitancy stems from fears — unsupported by experience or research, as the latest commission concluded — that women might prove physically or mentally unfit for combat, or that their presence on the front lines might undermine morale. But extensive professional literature describes how women have served in all the nation's modern wars.
"I do have concerns about women in front line combat. I think that could be a - a very compromising situation where - where people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. So my concern is being in combat in that situation instead of being focused on the mission, they may be more concerned with protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position."
- Rick Santorum
A congressionally-mandated panel on diversity in the military has recommended that the Pentagon abandon its rule barring women from being assigned to units involved in direct ground combat. These policies constitute a structural barrier that prevents women from entering the tactical/operational career fields associated with promotion to the flag/general officer grades and from serving in career-enhancing assignments. The commission, headed by retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles recommends a phased approach to integrating women into combat units.
Besides creating a level playing field by opening up ground combat to women, another benefit in allowing women to fulfill combat roles relates to the issue of promotions. The quickest way to ascend through military ranks is to do well in combat-related missions. Since women aren’t supposed to participate in such missions, it remains difficult for them to earn promotions similar to those of their men colleagues.
The Pentagon was well aware of the performance of European women soldiers, and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall conducted a full-scale experiment to see how well American women could perform. The experiment stunned the General Staff: mixed gender units performed better than all-male units. As the draft scraped further and further down the barrel, the availability of large numbers of potentially excellent un-utilized soldiers became an anomaly; the demands of military efficiency called for assigning women to combat.
June 23, 2005, was the deadliest day for U.S. American women in action since World War II, with one blast killing at least two women and wounding 11 others. Women account for over 2 percent of all combat deaths; that may sound small, but women are playing more roles in the U.S. military than ever before. One in six – 15 percent – of all active troops are female, nearly double those in 1980.
Ample evidence shows that differences between male and female graduates will persist in all classes of all academics in the forseeable future. Interviews and surveys of West Point graduates found that women rarely listed any positive aspect of their West Point education except physical training; they were more likely to say that there should be less infantry training at West point, and that they had more trouble as cadets dealing with noncommissioned officers; and they were more tolerant of unethical behavior at the academy, preferring to live and let live in most cases.
The U.S. military should reflect the democratic society it serves – and such reflection involves women in the military serving in any position for which they are qualified. If women are to be considered on par with men, they must have the right to serve in the military. People who oppose women in the military damage morale and create division.