A poll released Saturday by CBS and the New York Times indicates that just 53 percent of American adults support military women serving in combat roles. The poll also found 83 percent support women serving in support roles for ground troops, according to CBS. The United States currently restricts women from direct combat roles in infantry positions or in the Special Forces.
The poll also found a number of ideological and demographic factors to be influential. In general, Democrats, liberals, moderates, and independents favor women serving in combat roles while Republican and conservatives oppose it. Age is also a factor: 62 percent of women respondents younger than 45 support lifting the combat restriction, while only 44 percent of women respondents older than 45 support removing the ban. Overall, only 37 percent of respondents older than 65 support lifting the restriction.
Despite official military policy, women's participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has increasingly included direct combat. In contemporary warfare, there are no front lines. Retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor, who served under General Petraeus while he led forces in Iraq, told the New York Times, "Iraq has advanced the cause of full integration for women in the Army by leaps and bounds...[women] have earned the confidence and respect of male colleagues."
The CBS/New York Times poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 points and was conducted with a random sample of 1,050 adults nationwide over the telephone between July 24th and 28th.
Media Resources: CBS 8/15/09; New York Times 8/16/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/28/09