The U.S. is in the dark ages when it comes to utilizing women in the US Special Operations community. Female Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and Combat Controllers? Why the hell not? In all fairness the Army beat us to it with the first female Green Beret Katie Wilder.
Hard line thinking coupled with fixed ideology gets you nowhere. The same thinking is what slowed down women serving in combat in the Military and prevented Gays from openly serving their country. Regardless of your religious or political views, I’ll side with the great Economist Milton Friedman when he says that every human being has a desire and right to be free to choose.
I have no problem serving along side females or people with different sexual orientations. I’ve been there done that and had my ass saved by more than a few. I don’t call them anything but Warfighters. I’m glad to see that the facticity of reality has finally overpowered hard line fundamentalist thinking in the Military. There’s a reason people like Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation do the things they do.
So why does the U.S. lag behind other countries like South Korea and Israel (see this link with the female operative) when it comes to training women for covert Special Operations Units?
Why are there no female Navy SEALs, Green Berets or JTACs? I get asked the question, “Are there female Navy SEALs?” all the time. In my opinion we should have them.
Nobody likes change. Throughout history it has been hard to imagine the earth rotating around the sun, our planet being round and not flat and that women should have the right to vote. We are facing the same difficulty now, but change is coming. I’m not here to opine about how the Catholic Church has been on the wrong side of most major advancements in science. On the contrary, I want to talk about why there are no women in the U.S. Special Operations community. WTF over?
The Main Problem That Can Be Easily Overcome
Women and men cannot be closely confined with the expectation that they will not sleep with each other if given enough time. It’s against human biology to think otherwise. I saw this first hand when I served aboard two U.S. Aircraft carriers (The USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Kitty Hawk). 5000 people and 10-20 % of crews these days are women, and it’s against regulations for single men and women to have sex on the ship.
The truth is that it happens with regularity, there are even code words for it (e.g. “want to play cards?”). So good people continue to screw each other and some are caught and careers are ended. Too bad. We could learn a thing from Star Trek and their after hours lounge. People hooked up and went back to work fighting bad guys; just don’t let it interfere with the job. The solution is easy and I’ll get to it in a minute.
The CIA Gets One Thing Right
The CIA uses female Case Officers extensively and effectively to recruit good human assets. Nothing gets a guy talking like a sexy and powerful woman. Sex sells, and why not use it to our advantage in Special Operations? Most women case officers I’ve come across are ill prepared for the ugly real world. They don’t have the hard skills (social, weapons and hand-to-hand), training and honed instinct that only comes with decades of practice to deal with real threats. This is one reason they hire and use former Special Operations men to babysit.
When I worked with groups of women in the CIA, I felt sorry for them. Here they were, intelligent, capable and ill prepared for their environment. A few were even afraid to carry a loaded sidearm and some broke down crying in front of me because of operational pressure. I imagine a female that completed the Special Forces Q course or Navy SEAL training (BUD/S) would not have this problem.
But what do you expect from an organization that pulls smart people from college, puts them through “The Farm”, and unleashes them on the world with little practical knowledge or training. You end up with men and women that go from working at the GAP in college, then the “Farm” and over to Iraq to run amok. Reminds me of the Private Security Contractor Blackwater, and how they grew too fast and ignored their QA. A good company started grabbing any idiot with a desire to be a wannabe SOF guy and shipped him off to Iraq (after a few weeks of indentured training). What did you expect would happen, Erik?.
Me and my friends saw the transformation and it scared the hell out of us overseas. We avoided the BW guys like the plague, hell, we were afraid they’d shoot us! And then these idiots started shooting innocent civilians. At least they shot a few of each other off duty as well. Good riddance.
We have an ethic in the Special Operations community that goes: Don’t bitch about a problem without bringing a viable solution to the table. How do you create a viable female US Special Operations Force (SOF)? It’s really very simple and the framework and curriculum is already in place. Minor opposite sex tweaks are all that is needed. Some will say “It’s too expensive” and I will argue and budget and DoD waste all day long.
You train females to the same hard standards as Special Operations selection, but you do it separately. You don’t mix men and women in training or at the unit level. Special units for the women. An entire SEAL Team made up of female SEALs. They would train and fight together and you better get the fuck out of their way.
Eventually once they’re seasoned they could transition into other roles and parallel career paths similar to men. I imagine these ladies working behind the lines with the CIA or JSOC in very covert missions and one day commanding US SOCOM.
There’s a reason terrorists use women. Think about it.
The world we live in is small, complex and we face an enemy with no borders or rules. It’s time to cast our differences and fixed ideologies aside and embrace the female Special Operations Warrior.
Brandon is the SOFREP Executive Media Director, a former US Navy SEAL and author of The Red Circle (April 10th 2012 St. Martin’s Press release).
(Photo Credit: Steve Klein)