Although the U.S. Army officially opened special operations roles to females back in 2016, thus far, not one of the 24 female soldiers who have attempted Special Forces selection have been successful — that is, until now.
“Recently, a female successfully completed Special Forces Assessment and Selection and was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course,” Lt. Col. Loren Bymer told the press this week. ”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.”
U.S. Special Operations Command has chosen not to release the soldier’s name, rank, or current military occupational specialty — not only for the sake of her privacy but also because of the work inherent to the Army’s Special Forces units. They did, however, note that the soldier that passed selection was one of the previous 24 who returned for another attempt.
“It is our policy to not release the names of our service members because Special Forces soldiers perform discrete missions upon graduation,” Lt. Col. Brymer said.
The Special Forces Assessment and Selection phase of a Green Beret’s training is considered more than just a litmus test to see who can handle the intense, 61-week (or longer) Qualification Course that comes next. As far as the Army’s concerned the 24-day Assessment and Selection course is actually the first phase of a Green Beret’s special operations training.
Prior to attending the Assessment and Selection course, soldiers need to have already completed Advanced Individual Training and U.S. Army Airborne School. From there, they go on to a 14-day Special Operations Preparations Course (SOPC) that focuses primarily on ensuring potential candidates are fit enough to attempt selection. Land navigation, however, is also heavily emphasized. If a soldier can make it through both of those steps, they move on to Assessment and Selection, where the intensity of the physical and mental challenges are ratcheted up in an effort to weed out the soldiers that wouldn’t make it through the advanced level training. No other female has made it through all three of these steps since selection was opened to them in 2016.
Despite this accomplishment, the real hardship still lies ahead. The Special Forces Qualification Course, or Q-Course, can take up to 24 months to complete, depending on the specific soldier’s occupational specialty. While some elements of the Q-Course are currently being redesigned, it’s likely that the first female Green Beret candidate will undergo training in the same special operations fundamentals like small unit tactics, collective training (sometimes called Robin Sage), and an intense 25-week language and culture crash course.
Learn more about the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course in the video below:
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