In all this recent furor over female Rangers, I have not read or heard any references to Katie Wilder, the only female so far to attend the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course and be granted SF certification. Her SFQC class graduated in Aug of 1980. I do not know her class number.

According to sources within the SF community, Captain Wilder, while assigned to 5th Special Forces Group as a Military Intelligence officer, had submitted her packet to be accepted to SF training directly to the Special Warfare Center, the SF “School House,” responsible for command and control of all SF training, but was rejected. She submitted her packet again, through different channels, and then was accepted.

Captain Wilder was denied her SF qualification in a letter from SWC which she received toward the end of training. In response, Wilder filed a sexual discrimination complaint against the Special Warfare Center. She claimed in an interview with the Free Lance Star, in an article dated 22 August, 1980, that “The Special Forces course itself was not all that difficult for me” . . . “The difficult part was all the stumbling blocks thrown in my path by the Special Forces School” (SWC). Now, I have a problem with that. Anyone who tells me that the Special Forces Course was “Not all that difficult” loses credibility in my eyes. Portions of it about killed me, and I don’t know any SF men who would disagree with that. But, possibly this was true due to the fact that she was in the “Officers’ Course”.

The media has numerous times quoted Katie as saying that she served in Special Forces, which, technically, is true, but also gives the impression that she served on SF teams, which is not the case. After the Special Forces Qualification Course, Wilder was assigned, according to SF sources, to Military Intelligence training and duties at Fort Huachuca, New Mexico, and later to various MI units.

Wilder has claimed in interviews that she “spent four years in Special Forces and two of those years were spent with the 5th Special Forces Group.” Other SF sources say two years. Whatever. Without orders, or some sort of documentation, the issue is moot. The fact is that she was assigned to a Special Forces unit, to 5th SF Group, prior to the SFQC.

There were, of course, rumors and accusations of cheating, and that she failed the Land Nav portion of training, by dumping and hiding her rucksack, so she could cover more ground faster, and come back for it later. But, these sorts of things are not that uncommon during SFAS, or Hell Month, depending on when you went through that training. The only sin is getting caught.

The other main accusation against Wilder was in the final Robin Sage portion of the SF Course where it was rumored that she did not “carry her weight,” lacked tactical and weapons skills and that her leadership skills were questioned by several other students and “G’s”, or guerrillas, who in this case were Marines. But, the only ones who know about that for certain are the trainees and cadres who were there then. One would have to get their hands on the two investigations, done by SWC (the Special Warfare Center) and then by TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command), to possibly get to the bottom of that issue.

While at Ft Huachuca, in Feb 1981, the next year, Wilder was notified by TRADOC that she qualified for SF status. At that time she was also told that she was not authorized to wear the green beret. Wilder said in interviews that it was only fair that she be able to wear the beret, since she earned it.