Study: Most special ops forces opposed to integrating women

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Special operations forces overwhelmingly opposed opening their jobs to women, according to a study that explored integrating the forces under U.S. Special Operations Command.

The study was part of a trove of documents the Defense Department posted online over the weekend after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced all combat jobs will be open to women.

In his announcement, Carter specified that women will “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.”

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The findings suggest adding women to special forces could be a difficult transition given that opposition within the forces is "deep-seated and intensely felt,” according to the study.

It said the principle reasons for opposition are a belief that women aren't physically capable to be in special forces; that cohesion and trust within the troops will be hurt by integration and that performance standards may be lowered to allow women to enter.

“A successful integration of women into SOF occupations will require transparency, effective leadership and communication, monitoring of progress and openness to innovation, flexibility and adaptability,” the study reads. “Even with all of the above, the process still is likely to face major challenges because of the depth and scope of opposition and concern among the force.”

Although the Marine Corps asked for an exception to Carter's order last week, Special Operations Command did not.

As part of the study, the RAND Corp. received 7,618 completed surveys from Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, Air Force Special Operations Command Special Tactics Teams, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command operators and Special Warfare Combatant Craft detachment members.

Of the respondents, 85.6 percent said they were either strongly or somewhat opposed to opening their specialty to women.

Also, 70.9 percent said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to opening their unit to women.

Almost 88 percent said they were extremely or quite worried physical job standards would be reduced to open the jobs to women. And 82.5 percent said they strongly or somewhat disagree that women will have the physical strength and stamina to perform the jobs.

Fifty-three percent said their trust for women in their unit would be very low or low.

There was more division over other questions.

Forty-one percent strongly or somewhat disagreed that women would share their load and be accepted as equals, while 41.7 percent agreed or strongly agreed.