A female National Guard soldier is set to graduate and don the coveted Green Beret at the end of the month. SOFREP has learned that she passed Robin Sage, a unique Unconventional Warfare exercise and the culminating event in the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), earlier this week.
She will be the first woman to have successfully completed a Special Operations pipeline and join and an operational team since President Obama opened all jobs within the military to women. This marks a significant milestone for women across the force.
The graduation at the end of the month will definitely not be typical. Because of this historic milestone, graduation will be held in a closed hangar to conceal her identity. And for personal security reasons, SOFREP is withholding her identity. A Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (18C) with the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, the female soldier has big hopes of going active duty. However, her welcome may not be as warm as she may like.
Just over five feet tall, her walking into a Special Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) team room will not be high fives and handshakes: Culture takes time to adapt to change. There are plenty of older generations still within the Regiment that believe there is no place for a woman on a team. However, newer graduates accept it, if the woman can pass the same standards. So did the new graduate pass with the same standards? All reports indicate yes. She did, however, have her fair of challenges, recycling at least one phase.
While this is an incredible feat, she may not be the first. Captain Kathleen Wilder became the first woman to be eligible for the Army’s Special Forces in the 1980s (the selection was somewhat different back then). Captain Wilder attended the Officers Special Forces Course at Fort Bragg but was told just before graduation that she had failed a field exercise and could not be a candidate for the military’s premier Unconventional Warfare unit. She filed a complaint of gender discrimination. Brigadier General F. Cecil Adams, who investigated it, determined that she had been wrongly denied graduation. In a letter, the then-commanding officer of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), General Donn Albert Starry, awarded her the Special Forces identification code.
Additionally, in the 1970s, Specialist Katie McBrayer, an intelligence analyst, had served in an operational role with Blue Light, a Special Forces counterterrorism element existing before the creation of Delta Force. She had not graduated from the Q Course, however.
Delta Force and other Tier 1 units have been recruiting women for a variety of roles for decades. So what took the SF Regiment so long? Well for one, combat fields were previously closed to females. However at Group, since 2016, women have been working at the Battalion level. So these days, to walk around Battalion and see women is a very normal thing. And they could be serving right beside the male operators while deployed as mechanics, SOT-As, intel, and now as actual operators themselves. So watch out Fort Bragg, you soon may see this woman wearing a long tab.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Captain Wilder did indeed graduate the old officer version of the Q course and was Special Force qualified. Cpt Wilder, furthermore, was authorized to wear the Special Forces tab once it was introduced in 1983.