By Debbie Gregory.
According to a RAND survey, many of the men in the U.S. military’s most dangerous jobs feel that women have no place on their special forces teams.
In blunt answers to the voluntary survey, more than 7,600 special operations forces said, almost unanimously, that allowing women to serve in Navy SEAL, Army Delta or other commando units could hurt their effectiveness. They also expressed concerns that women serving in the special forces could lower the standards and drive men away.
They also expressed concern that women wouldn’t have the physical strength or mental toughness to do the grueling jobs.
Since the survey was taken, May through July 2014, women have broken through the special forces barrier by graduating from the Army Ranger course. However, the detailed results and comments written by respondents have only just been released following Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s announcement that he was opening all combat jobs to women.
That decision was based on recommendations by the military service secretaries and the leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command. Only the Marine Corps asked to exempt women from certain infantry and frontline positions, but Carter denied that request.
Oklahoma Republican Rep. Steve Russell had asked the Department of Defense for documents about the women who attended Ranger School after becoming concerned that “the women got special treatment and played by different rules.”
Some 85 percent of the respondents said they oppose opening the special operations jobs to women, and 70 percent oppose having women in their individual units. More than 80 percent said women aren’t strong enough and can’t handle the demands of the job. And 64 percent said they aren’t mentally tough enough.
Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, noted that women have already moved into some special operations jobs, including as helicopter pilots and crew, members of cultural support teams in Afghanistan and in civil affairs and information operations.
The services must submit implementation plans that would address such issues by today.