Americans largely back combat role for women: poll

WASHINGTON Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:05am EST

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sienna De Santis and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Heidi Dean, both with Female Engagement Team, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, greet children during a patrol in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, in this October 29, 2010 DOD handout photo. REUTERS/David Hernandez/DOD photo/Handout

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sienna De Santis and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Heidi Dean, both with Female Engagement Team, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, greet children during a patrol in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, in this October 29, 2010 DOD handout photo.

Credit: Reuters/David Hernandez/DOD photo/Handout

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. public largely backs the Pentagon's decision to lift restrictions on women in combat, a poll showed on Tuesday.

Sixty-six percent of those polled said they support letting women serve in ground units that engage in close combat, while 26 percent are opposed, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post.

Opinion on the issue is little changed from a Washington Post/ABC News survey two years ago, Pew said in a statement.

The Defense Department lifted a longtime ban on women serving in front-line combat units on Thursday. The move marked a historic step toward sexual equality after 11 years of war in which women were increasingly on the battlefield.

The survey found that the public is split over whether the move represented a major change for the U.S. military. Forty-seven percent said it is, while an equal percentage said it is a minor change.

The poll was conducted from January 24 to 27 among 1,005 adults, after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ended the combat ban. The margin of error was 3.7 percentage points.

The poll found that 58 percent of Americans think that the policy shift will improve opportunities for women in the military.

Nearly half, or 49 percent, say allowing women to serve in combat roles will not make much difference to military effectiveness.

Among those who say it will have an impact, 29 percent say this will improve effectiveness, versus 15 percent who say it will make it worse.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Comments (3)
bobber1956 wrote:
Your poll is a lie!

Jan 29, 2013 10:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
alSheik wrote:
Well said bobber1956, I too find it hard to believe that a quarter of Americans actually disagree with the decision.

Jan 29, 2013 1:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TheKro16 wrote:
I highly doubt that the majority of this country thinks it is a good idea to put women on the front lines even more than they already are. You give us the name of the poll but not who was polled. For all we know the poll could have been answered mainly by a bunch of high school kids. Even if the majority of the country thinks it’s a good idea for women to be in more combat roles then it still doesn’t matter. I guarantee you that most of those who have served and are serving in the military disagree with the new policy. Only a soldier has any business on deciding whether or not this new policy is right or not. This will not end well and it will not last long. End of story.

Jan 30, 2013 4:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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