Women have not attended Special Forces training in decades — but it has happened before. One officer, then-Capt. Kathleen Wilder, qualified to join Special Forces in 1981 after fighting for more than a year to be allowed to take it. She failed a three-week field guerrilla warfare exercise in 1980, and later claimed that she was flunked due to sexual prejudice. The school’s director denied her appeal for redress, but an Army investigation later carried out an investigation and awarded her the Special Forces certification, according to a UPI news account at the time.
The soldiers selected now still have a long way to go before earning the right to wear the distinctive green headgear. SFAS is known as a grueling 21-day program in which candidates are identified only by a number, such as a “Candidate 122,” and receive the majority of their instructions from dry-erase boards.
The first week, known as “gates,” consists of physical fitness tests, running with weighted packs, and marches. Upon completion of gates, SFAS candidates move on to a land-navigation week, in which soldiers learn the basics of navigating with a map and compass before a final two-day day and night exercise.
The final and third week is known as “team week.” It pits the candidates on long missions with little sleep in which they must carry rucksacks weighing at least 75 pounds, and teams of soldiers must also carry unwieldy pieces of equipment that take multiple people to move.