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Should Women Be Allowed To Be Rangers, SEALs?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two women made history last week by being the first of their gender to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School, but are voters ready for women in elite combat-fighting units?

The answer is yes. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the military allowing women to participate in combat missions with special operations forces like the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs. Twenty-seven percent (27%) oppose allowing women to participate in these high-risk missions, while 12% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Women are only slightly more accepting than men of women serving in special operation forces. But 73% of voters under the age of 40 like the idea, compared to just over half of their elders.

Among all voters, 56% continue to think that women in the military should be allowed to fight on the front lines and perform all the combat roles that men do. But while 44% still think the growing role of women in the armed services is good for the military, that’s the lowest level measured since late 2013. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 19-20, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Past surveying has shown that overwhelming majorities of voters think women should be required to pass the same physical tests as men if they are allowed to serve in special forces such as the Green Berets and Navy SEALs. Military personnel have confirmed that the two female graduates completed all of the same requirements that the men did.

Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats support allowing women to participate in combat missions with special operations forces like the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs. That position is shared by 52% of Republicans and 61% of voters not affiliated with either party.

Just 32% of all voters think the Pentagon's decision to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly has been good for the military.  Voters are almost evenly divided over the Pentagon's recently announced decision to allow transgender individuals also to serve openly in the U.S. military.

Voters agree that sexual assault in the military is a serious problem and support legislation that was rejected in the Senate last year that would take jurisdiction over prosecuting those cases away from the military chain of command. 

Voters still give the military very positive marks.

But voters still think terrorists have the edge in the War on Terror. With Americans increasingly worried out about their safety on the home front, more voters than ever think the United States needs to spend more on national security.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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