The most elite men in the U.S. military may eventually have women serving alongside them, as Special Operations Command — home to Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, and Marine Reconnaissance — moves forward with plans for integration of females.
In testimony Wednesday to a House Armed Services subcommittee, SOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven talked about the plan to integrate women into special ops to be presented to the defence Secretary in May.
“We’re building a plan to do that, looking at doctrine, training and deployment,” McRaven said. “I’ve got to find out whether we can pull that off, because I am committed to doing that and have seen the value.”
SOCOM will need to issue a full report on whether they can move forward for integrating women by the first quarter of 2016.
He emphasised that standards were the the biggest issue on whether females could one day join special operations forces. McRaven said he would work on a plan and then “test the hypothesis” of whether females can make it in special ops.
“I get asked frequently ‘can you have gender-neutral standards’, and I say this is easy for me, [because] I’ve never had other genders. There is only one standard.”
“What I don’t want to imply is that this is going to be easy,” McRaven told the subcommittee. “I just don’t know yet until we start to flesh this thing out.”
The Marine Corps has already been experimenting with females attempting to join the infantry, allowing test cases to go through Infantry Officer Course. Of the four women who have volunteered for training, none have made it through.
McRaven was more confident back in January, after the ban on women in combat units was rescinded: “I guarantee you, there will be females out there that will come to [basic underwater demolition/SEAL] training or be Rangers … and will do a phenomenal job,” he said.
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