The recent announcement by the Pentagon to admit women into all military combat roles was widely praised, but a recently released survey reveals most of the men in elite units don't want females on their teams.
A Rand Corp. survey of more than 7,600 special operations forces found that 85 percent did not want women serving in the Navy SEALs, Delta Force and other such units. The survey was conducted from May through July 2014, with general results reported earlier this year. But the draft report wasn't released until Defense Secretary Ash Carter last week announced the policy shift opening all combat roles to qualified women.
Most of the survey’s respondents said women aren’t physically or mentally strong enough to perform the highly demanding jobs. According to the Associated Press, 70 percent of special operators oppose having women in their units; more than 80 percent said women weren’t physically strong enough and 64 percent said women lacked the mental toughness required.
Those surveyed were also allowed to share in-depth opinions about their answers to the 46 questions in the survey. Many were "blunt" and "profanity-laced," the AP said.
One respondent said he weighs 280 pounds when in full gear and expects that anyone on his team could drag him from a combat zone.
"A 130-pound female could not do it, I don't care how much time she spends in the gym, the respondent wrote. "Do we expect wounded men to bleed out because a female soldier could not drag him to cover?"
Another respondent seemed resigned to the inevitability of women serving as special operators.
"This integration will happen eventually and we might as well embrace it while we have current solid leadership and incoming solid leadership at the top to facilitate the transition," he wrote.
Vow to keep standards
General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, has vowed to keep the standards for entering the special forces the same, adding that some women are already involved in special operations as helicopter pilots and in civil affairs.
Those surveyed, who were predominantly young, white and married, viewed sexual harassment and sexual affairs as potential problems.
All combat roles will be open to women, Carter said at a news conference last week.
"There will be no exceptions," the Pentagon chief said. "They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men."