“We will welcome any candidate who meets standards.”

So says Rear Admiral Brian Losey, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, the military authority over the nation’s Navy SEALs and special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, as he signals the command’s readiness to open basic SEAL training to women. So begins the change.

Losey penned a five-page memo to the members of his command, detailing his thoughts on women entering Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S), in which he laid out his concerns, predictions, and overall outlook on the issue. The letter, obtained by the Associated Press, follows on the heels of earlier reports that Losey was contemplating opening BUD/S to women, and follows similar moves being made in other special operations units.

In his memo, Losey wrote that there were “no insurmountable obstacles” to bringing females to BUD/S, while pointing out that he thought there would be physical and medical challenges to the women who did attend the training. This seems rather obvious, given that there are physical and medical challenges to the men who attend BUD/S, as well (understatement, anyone?). Nevertheless, it remains a concern.

Losey opined that the challenges will be greater for women as compared to men, pointing out the concerns regarding how well women can handle the extreme physical demands of BUD/S, as well as the long-term medical impact of serving in the SEALs.

In addition to those concerns, Losey raised the (valid) issue of how unit cohesion will be effected by integrating females into the SEAL teams. He downplayed those concerns, however, noting that acceptance of female SEALs within the teams will increase over time. He noted that the men will have to adapt to female teammates, while the women will have to deal with possible isolation and ostracization. Both of these facts seem likely, at least initially, in some circumstances.

It should be noted, however, that previous social changes imposed on the military have also been accompanied by strife and a period of change and adaptation. One former SEAL officer recounted for this author how his platoon witnessed race riots onboard Navy ships in the 1970s, long after racial integration had been imposed on the service. Nor was it uncommon for black sailors in those days to be treated more harshly than their white crew mates.

In his memo, Losey also raised concerns over the probable media attention that would swarm BUD/S’s first female candidates. He pointed out that such attention might distract the instructor staff and other students from their training, and might jeopardize the anonymity of the students in the program. This latter point seems a bit farcical, considering that the command has, on numerous occasions, allowed the media to observe, report on, and even film BUD/S students in training, and has allowed some active-duty SEALs to star in a Hollywood movie.