The Washington Times - January 24, 2013, 01:59PM

A new online poll of Washington Times readers reveals that most do not approve of women serving in direct combat. The percentage of those who say females should not be allowed to serve in a heavy combat situation ranges from 70 percent to over 80 percent.

Reader reactions so far are succinct and often fierce, criticizing the influence of feminism and political correctness while citing major concerns for the continued efficacy and morale of the military. Some also suggested that “basic instinct” would take over, noting that males are essentially hardwired to protect females - which could compound an already complicated and hazardous situation.

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“The real reason for women not on the front lines is that when large casualties are taken and a large number of young women are killed — we will lose our will to fight,” commented a former infantryman.

“In one of his last acts as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta will revoke the last of the policies that prevent women from serving in combat arms,” points out Jed Babbin, a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush.

“Make no mistake about it: this action isn’t about civil rights, equal opportunity, or any of the laudable things America has done in the past fifty years to remove false barriers within the military. This is different. It is a purely political act that will make our military — and the military families liberals claim to venerate — much weaker than they are today,” Mr. Babbin observes in a commentary for the publication.

“There are two components to the question. First and foremost is whether the presence of women will add to or detract from the readiness and capability of the unit to perform its mission. The second is a moral question: Will having women serve in harm’s way benefit our military and society at large?” he continues.

“The question of benefit to society has been mooted politically. To even suggest that women are different from men in important ways — such as the instincts for motherhood and nurturing — is to be outside the realm of permissible political thought. To ask whether those natural instincts should be subordinated to the skills of war is unthinkable, at least to those who want to ‘gender neutralize’ the military,” Mr. Babbin says.

“So we are left with the first question, which has to be answered with a resounding ‘no.’”