A woman has joined a U.S. Navy special warfare unit for the first time, the last gender barrier to fall in the five years since women became eligible to apply for any combat position in the army.
The service said on Thursday the woman was the first female to graduate from a Navy Special warfare training pipeline that directly supports SEALs and other elite commando units.
A Navy spokeswoman said the woman would not be identified, which is standard policy for special forces members.
In a statement, Rear Admiral Hugh W. Howard III, commander of US Naval Special Warfare Command, said the woman’s graduation was “an extraordinary achievement.”
âLike her fellow operators, she has demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership qualities required to join our force,â he said.
The Navy said in a Press release that the woman on duty was one of 17 graduates from a program destined to become what he calls special warfare combat crew members.
SWCC personnel specialize in what the Navy calls “covert insertion and extraction” operations using small, stealthy, heavily armed boats capable of high speeds and capable of operating independently or being delivered. by larger ships and helicopters.
In addition to receiving weapons and navigation training, SWCC sailors also undergo parachute training to drop their speedboats into the ocean from cargo planes, such as during the 2009 Mission to Save Americans at aboard the hijacked ship Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean.
Only about 35% of SWCC applicants graduate, the Navy said.
The woman who graduated Thursday will be among the operators of three special teams of boats that carry Navy SEALs and conduct their own classified missions, the Associated Press reported.
She is one of 18 women who tried to be SWCC or SEAL, the spokesperson said. Fourteen of them did not complete special war training. Three other women are currently training to become Navy SEALs or SWCC operators, the spokesperson said.
The proportion of women in the US military has been steadily increasing for decades. When the project ended in 1973, women made up 2 percent of the enlisted forces and 8 percent of the officer corps in the U.S. military, according to a analysis of data from the Ministry of Defense by the Council on Foreign Relations which did not include US Coast Guard statistics. By 2018, these numbers had risen to 16% and 19%.
In 2018, two years after the Pentagon opened up all combat jobs to women, First Lt. Marina A. Hierl became the first female in the Marine Corps to command an infantry platoon.
Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne S. Bass of the US Air Force became the first woman to hold the post of the highest ranking non-commissioned officer in US military service.
Last week, Master Sgt. Bass celebrated the legacy of another pioneer, Sgt. Esther McGowin Blake, the first woman to enlist in the air force.
Forty years earlier, another woman, Kate Wilder, fought for her right to be recognized after she passed the Special Forces Officer course, but the school principal told her she wouldn’t get it. not his diploma.
In 1981, after a military investigation and about six months after completing the course, she received the code “5 Golf” for Special Forces officers and sent a diploma certificate backdated to August 21, 1980.
She retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2003 after 28 years of service, proudly wearing her Special Forces label for the rest of her career.
But despite all the recent advances, even high-ranking female officers still face gender discrimination.
In March, President Biden appointed two women – General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the air force and Lieutenant-General Laura J. Richardson of the army – to lead two of the army’s combat commands. Their Pentagon bosses had agreed on their promotions before Mr Biden took office, but withheld them for fear that President Donald J. Trump would reject the officers because they were women. .