For the first time ever, a female sailor has successfully completed the grueling 37-week training course to become a Navy Special Warfare combatant-craft-crewman — the boat operators who transport Navy SEALs and conduct their own classified missions at sea.
Navy officials refused to identify the woman or provide more details about her due to safety concerns, which is a routine military policy for special operations forces.
She was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins on Thursday. She is also the first of 18 women who have tried out for a job as an SWCC or a SEAL to succeed.
The sailor’s graduation is just the latest inroad that women have made into some of the military’s most difficult and competitive commando jobs.
Just five years after all combat posts were opened to them. She will now head to one of the Naval Special Warfare’s three special boat teams.
Becoming the first female to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, the commander of Naval Special Warfare. “Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive, and leadership attributes required to join our force.
“She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms to deliver distinctive capabilities to our Navy, and the joint force in defense of the nation,” Howard added.
Of the 18 females who have tried out for the job of Navy special operations, 14 of them did not complete the course. Three of them, however, are currently still in the training pipeline, one for SWCC and two attempting to become SEALs.
Overall, according to the Navy, only about 35% of the men who being the training for SWCC actually graduate.
A year ago, a female soldier became the first woman to complete the Army’s elite Special Forces course and join one of the all-male Green Beret teams. One other female soldier has finished training and will report to her assigned Special Forces group next month, and another will be attending the Military Freefall School next month, and then will report to her team.
So far, no women have successfully completed Marine special operations training. Marine spokesman Maj. Hector Infante said that since August 2016, nine females have attempted to get through the assessment and selection process. He said two candidates made it through the second phase, but didn’t meet performance expectations and, along with a number of male counterparts, didn’t get selected to continue.
He said that only about 40 percent of the more than 1,200 Marines who went through the course since 2016 successfully completed it.
Air Force Lt. Col. Malinda Singleton said that at of this month, there are two enlisted females in the Air Force Special Warfare training pipeline for combat jobs that opened to women in 2015. One has completed the assessment and selection course and will be eligible for an assignment in a special operations job as soon as she finishes some final training. The other woman is in the preparatory course and hasn’t yet made it to the assessment phase.
According to Naval Special Warfare, about 300 sailors attempt the SWCC course every year and about 70 complete it. There are between 760 and 800 in the force at any one time.
Thanks to our friends at The Associated Press for contributing to this article.
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