A new poll reveals that there is widespread support among Americans for women to be included if the U.S. military would resume a draft.

The poll done by CapitalSoup.com and Mason-Dixon Polling and Research said 59 percent of Americans “believe women should be included in a draft, compared to only 38 percent who think they should not.”

However, an expert on the U.S. military and the issues it is facing said there are concerns with such an idea, especially since the military just announced a strategy to “allow” women into combat.

“The poll uses the phrase ‘participating in combat,’ as if that experience is no more difficult than ‘participating’ in a social event,” warned Elaine Donnelly, of the Center for Military Readiness.

Her group is an independent and nonpartisan public policy group that promotes high standards and sound priorities for making military personnel policies. It takes the lead in defending elements of military culture that are essential for morale and readiness.

“The word ‘included’ also suggests a voluntary option, instead of a mandatory order,” she said.

However, she continued, “Due to physiological differences that cannot be adjusted, women do not have an equal opportunity to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive in direct ground combat units that attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action.”

She said, “Equal obligations to become ‘combat replacements’ – a phrase used by the Supreme Court in the 1981 Rostker v. Goldberg case upholding women’s SS exemptions – would therefore be unfair to women and extremely controversial.”

The poll showed that support for drafting women was strongest among women, the 18-34 age group and Democrats.

“This poll documents a real evolution in public opinion about women serving in combat,” said Michelle Ubben, for CapitalSoup.com. “It reflects some interesting divides, with twice as many Democrats supporting women in the draft as Republicans. Clearly women are not shying away from an equal responsibility to serve our country.”

The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters nationwide and was conducted by telephone March 27-April 1. The margin of error is 3.2 percent.

It followed by only days the Defense Department’s confirmation that it plans to order female personnel into direct ground combat battalions.

Said Donnelly, “Department of Defense and military leaders are letting down the troops by moving ahead with ill-advised plans to order (not ‘allow’) women into physically demanding direct ground combat (DGC) positions. These include Army and Marine infantry, artillery, armor, and Special Operations Forces, including Ranger and Navy SEAL battalions.

“Missions of these fighting teams, which attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action, are very different from the experiences of courageous military women who have served in harm’s way while exposed to incident-related or contingent combat in war zones since 9/11,” she said.

“The phrase ‘gender-neutral standards’ has yet to be defined and no one has made the argument that such requirements would strengthen training or improve readiness in the combat arms. Due to physical differences that have been affirmed by more than 30 years of studies and reports on the subject, all possible options for implementing ‘gender-neutral standards’ would have the effect of lowering requirements.”

She said what will have to happen is that the military will lower its physical requirements, or men and women will be scored by “equal effort” rather than performance. Or she said, if standards remain the same, most women would “wash out.”

“None of these options for achieving gender-based ‘diversity’ in the combat arms would sustain or improve combat training standards, which are necessarily high for survival and mission accomplishment in elite fighting teams and Special Operations Forces,” she said.

“It is regrettable that members of Congress are so distracted that they are failing to recognize a fundamental flaw in the argument for women in the infantry: Violence against women is wrong, say the proponents, unless it happens at the hands of the enemy. None of this is necessary, since the Pentagon’s own data shows that for decades, military women have been promoted at rates equal to or faster than men.”

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.