Our military forces have been in combat non-stop since 9/11. They’ve shown that they’ve been equal to the task and have performed as we’ve come to expect from our armed forces. However, the ongoing conflicts have seen increased leanings on our Special Operations Forces, who, despite being just a fraction of the overall force, are conducting combat operations at a rate far greater than their numbers.

The operational tempo is insanely high and we’re seeing the results of that creep into the force. PTSD, suicides, substance abuse, and family issues from having to deploy so many times are taking a toll. The stress of constant combat deployments is a very real issue that the services are trying to work thru. And in addition, they’ll have other issues to deal with. Not in the future but now the very foundation of the Special Operations Forces is subject to change.

When Defense Secretary Ashton Carter opened combat occupation roles for women in the military, it also allowed women to volunteer for the various Special Operations units. Women have served in combat areas and performed well in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There have been 160 that have paid the ultimate price. But there is a vast difference between women allowed to serve in combat and going on special missions and women who will be assigned to Special Forces A-teams, SEAL Teams, as well as MARSOC and AFSOC units.

Women have already performed special operations and have gone on missions.  The Special Operations Command first allowed women on operations with the Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) and those have been successful at times. Women were able to gather intelligence from Afghan women, something that was rarely done before. But many of the male operators on the missions consider them a hindrance. But remember the CSTs were not operators from the units, just attached to them. The training that is open to them will change that.