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Special Operations Spotlight

Women Navy SEALs on the Horizon?

Demi Moore in "GI Jane"

With recent legislation paving the way for women in the military partaking in combat roles, it was inevitable that talk would eventually turn to special operations, and The Christian Science Monitor reports that while military occupational specialties once open only to men are now being considered for gender neutrality, it may come as a surprise to more than a few that the head of special operations himself is in favor of opening up the SEALs to women.

Admiral William McRaven, head of Special Operations Forces, said that he guarantees that there are women who will pass training and become SEALs, and they will do a phenomenal job. He does caution, however, that, "The one thing we want to make sure [we do is] we maintain our standards."

A giant leap up from basic riflemen, Special Operations Forces must pass training that is far tougher psychologically and physically. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Gary Sargent said that his main concern is whether or not politicians will lower fitness standards for female candidates. As a former SOF officer, he recalls needing to carry up to 140 pounds of gear at certain moments.

Norway has already experienced greater gender integration in their armed forces, and female soldiers have constantly had to resist government measures to lower standards for women. Colonel Ingrid Gjerde, a Norwegian officer who's served for 25 years, said, "I have to be very clear: You have to meet the physical standards, because the job is still the same. It works very well as long as women hold the standards."

 

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