New York Times writer Thomas Gibbons-Neff first broke yesterday that a National Guard soldier is set to become the Army’s first female Green Beret in the coming weeks. This report set off a frenzy of other news outlets such as Military.com, Army Times, Task and Purpose, and several others piggybacking off the New York Times article.
But this is far from true — the soldier has still a long way to go. And, in fact, there are two female soldiers in the course, sources with intimate knowledge told SOFREP.
The first female candidate is undergoing the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) part of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). More specifically, she is training to become a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (18C). Statistically speaking, she does have a good chance of successfully completing SFQC but she still has multiple phases ahead of her (including the unique culminating exercise, Robin Sage).
Gibbons-Neff stated that “the woman, an enlisted soldier, is in the final stage of training before graduating from the roughly yearlong qualification course, or Q Course, as a Special Forces engineer sergeant. Her graduation is almost guaranteed, officials said, although occasionally soldiers have failed the course this late in the training or withdrawn because of injuries.” Gibbons-Neff does keep the names of his sources private, and for a good reason, since his information is not accurate.
Historically, after being selected for training, National Guard soldiers tend to do very well, with an average graduation rate of 80 percent. But it is key to highlight that her graduation is far from guaranteed, and she has yet to come close to the final stages.
SOFREP has learned that the second female candidate was recycled during the new iteration of Small Unit Tactics (SUT). This put her behind schedule.
There are two National Guard Special Forces Groups (19th and 20th) and five Active Duty (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th).
A woman completing Special Forces training would mark a significant milestone for female troops since combat jobs, which were previously open only to men, became available to the women in 2016. Hundreds of female soldiers have since moved into those roles, including several who’ve graduated from the elite Army Ranger School. Nowadays, having women in the Battalions of Special Forces is a common thing; but thus far in a support role.
Should these female candidates graduate, they won’t be the first women to be qualified. Capt. Kathleen Wilder became the first woman to be eligible for the Army’s Special Forces in the 1980s. Captain Wilder, was the first woman to take the Officers Special Forces Course at Fort Bragg and was told just before graduation in August that she had failed a field exercise and could not be a candidate for the elite guerilla warfare team. She filed a complaint of gender discrimination and Brig. Gen. F. Cecil Adams, who investigated it, determined that she had been wrongly denied graduation. No reports were found on whether or not she ever “graduated.”
While we here at SOFREP wish them both the best through their training, they still have many challenges ahead.