All the way back in 2013, the Pentagon unveiled plans for fully integrating women into front-line and special combat roles, including elite forces such as the Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. Although women were permitted to serve in some dangerous jobs (and did so in Iraq and Afghanistan where there were multiple fatalities) it wasn’t until then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formally lifted the official ban on women in combat that they could aspire to earn positions in special segments of the U.S. armed forces. Well, the initiative is coming full circle as the Fayetteville Observer reported that for the first time since the Army opened its special operations jobs to women in 2016, a female soldier has completed the initial Special Forces Assessment and Selection process, and is on her way to becoming a Green Beret.
In case you’re not familiar with the Special Forces Assessment and Selection process the video below details the hellish three weeks that these soldiers must endure. The program has a notoriously high drop-out rate, and it’s not the first time a woman has tried her luck. So far several have attempted the 24-day program, but none (until now) have made it to the next round.
Due to the sensitive missions carried out by Green Berets, the female soldier will remain anonymous. Therefore the USASOC declined to provide the soldier’s rank or her current military occupational specialty. It’s also worth noting that according to Military.com her challenge is only beginning – “The qualification course can take up to 24 months, depending on the candidate’s military occupational specialty.”
With that said, it’s another giant step for women in the armed forces. In January of 2017, the first three women joined the infantry Marines, serving in the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. As stated by the Army Times, “The Green Berets are one of the last Army communities not to have female soldiers assigned. Since the combat exemption lifted, hundreds of women have joined the infantry community, several have been assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, and more than a dozen have earned the Ranger tab.”
We salute this anonymous soldier currently making history within our armed forces and thank all of those currently serving our country.
Cover Photo: Pvt. Kaleena Gaeth was one of 16 women in a class of 75 Soldiers who graduated June 3 from Advanced Individual Training as 13B cannon crewmembers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (U.S. Army photo by Meghan Portillo)