First woman passes Army's selection course on path to becoming a Green Beret
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: November 15, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — A woman has passed Special Forces Assessment and Selection for the first time in the history of the Green Berets.
The unnamed soldier completed the selection process this week, officials said. Like other Special Forces soldiers, she is not being identified by U.S. Army Special Operations Command or the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, which oversees training for Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations soldiers.
"It is our policy to not release the names of our service members because Special Forces soldiers perform discrete missions upon graduation," said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a USASOC spokesman.
Special Forces Assessment and Selection is one of the first steps for a soldier seeking to earn the coveted Green Beret and is considered one of the most grueling selection processes in the U.S. military. It is followed by the Special Forces Qualification Course, which is also conducted at Fort Bragg.
Bymer said the selection process involves a continual assessment of each candidate by professional cadre throughout a 24-day rigorous test of mental and physical stamina.
In all, training to become a Special Forces soldier can take up to two years, depending on military occupational specialty and foreign language requirements, officials said.
"We're proud of all the candidates who attended and were selected to continue into the qualification course in hopes of earning their Green Beret," Bymer said.
The soldier is expected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course in the coming months.
If she completes training to become a Special Forces soldier, she would open one of the last remaining all-male fraternities of the Army — the Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha, or A-team.
Each A-team is comprised of 12 soldiers with varied specialties.
And the soldier, if she graduates, would be assigned to one of seven Special Forces groups, each orientated to a particular part of the globe and trained to work alongside and through local forces in their areas of expertise.
Special Forces were created at Fort Bragg in 1952 and have played key roles in national military strategy ever since, but the difficult assessment and selection process was not opened to women until 2016, following an Army-wide directive to integrate previously male-only specialties.
One woman, then-Capt. Kathleen Wilder, qualified to join Special Forces in 1981. She failed a field exercise in 1980 and claimed that she was flunked due to sex discrimination. The school’s director denied her appeal, but she received the Special Forces certification after an Army investigation, according to a UPI news story at the time.
Despite that, women have served in Special Forces units for years, typically in support roles.
In 2017, Lt. Col. Megan Brogden became the first woman to take command of a battalion in a Special Forces group when she took command of the 3rd Special Forces Group Support Battalion.
Other special operations fields have also previously welcomed women into the force.
The 75th Ranger Regiment received its first female Ranger in 2017, two years after the first two women graduated from Ranger School.
And the Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations and special operations aviation regiments integrated even earlier, opening their doors to women in 2013 and 2014.
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