UNITED STATES: For the first time, a female sailor has completed the “assessment and selection” of an elite United States Navy training programme to become a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC).
This has been the latest gender barrier to fall in the five years since women became eligible to apply for any combat job in the military in 2015.
On Thursday the service said the woman is the first female graduate from the elite US defense force group that directly support the Navy Sea, Air and Land Teams (SEALs) in high-risk warfare missions, and conduct their own classified military operations.
Abiding by the Pentagon policy, which is a standard policy for members of the special forces, the sailor who completed the gruelling 37 weeks of training has not been named.
Recruits are trained for gruelling exercises including weaponry, navigation, parachuting, combat and covert insertion and extraction – getting soldiers in and out of hostile or classified areas. The programme terminates with a 72-hour event called the Tour, the time when many troops drop out. With 23 hours of running and 5 miles (8 km) of swimming in challenging environments, it tests recruits both physically and mentally.
The troop is the first of the 18 women to graduate as an SWCC or a SEAL, Associated Press reported. Fourteen of them were unable to finish the special warfare training and three are currently undergoing training.
Officials say that only about 35% of sailors who apply to the SWCC programme manage to get through.
“Becoming the first woman to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment, and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” said Rear Admiral HW Howard, Commander of US Naval Special Warfare Command.
“Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force,” he added.
A report of The New York Times said that the share of women in the U.S. military has been inching upward for decades.