Woman on Track to Become 1st Female Army Green Beret: Report

Special Forces Soldiers during their Special Forces Qualification Course graduation ceremony.
Brand-new Special Forces Soldiers stand at attention during their Special Forces Qualification Course graduation ceremony Aug. 9, 2012 in Fayetteville, N.C. (U.S. Army/Dave Chace, SWCS Public Affairs Office)

A soldier is on tap to finish the Army's highly selective Special Forces Qualification Course and become the first-ever female Green Beret in the service's history, The New York Times is reporting.

The unidentified National Guard soldier is close to completing the grueling qualification course to become a Special Forces engineer sergeant, according to the Times. Citing unnamed officials, the Times reported the woman is "almost guaranteed" to complete the yearlong course, making it likely that she will finish, barring any injuries.

A spokesman for Army Special Operations Command would not provide information on the soldier's status or what week of training she has reached. He also declined to release information about the woman, such as rank or specialty, citing safety concerns.

Women have previously made it past the roughly three-week-long Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course since military combat roles opened to women in 2016. Kate Wilder previously passed Green Beret training known as the Qualification Course, or Q Course, in the 1980s, but wasn’t allowed to graduate with the rest of the students. The Army then closed the course to women until combat jobs opened to them in 2016, according to the Times.

Related: First Woman Passes Army Special Forces Selection Process

Q Course is made up of six phases lasting about 53 weeks total. Phases include small-unit tactics, combat marksmanship, advanced Special Forces tactics, language training and unconventional warfare, among others.

The culminating field exercise, known as Robin Sage, drops soldiers into a fictional setting in North Carolina where they apply skills in guerrilla warfare, mission analysis and planning, rapport building, and supporting a resistance movement.

The training is some of the most intense in the Army. When candidates graduate, they receive the coveted green berets and become Special Forces soldiers.

To qualify, soldiers must be at least 20 years old, meet special fitness requirements, be able to earn a secret security clearance, and be airborne qualified or eligible for the training.

A woman completing Special Forces training would mark a major milestone for female troops since combat jobs that were previously open only to men became available to them in 2016. Hundreds of female soldiers have since moved into those roles, including several who've graduated from the elite Army Ranger School.

Some of the other services, including the Marine Corps, are still struggling to get women to volunteer for the jobs. That service's top general just last week announced a push to get more female Marines serving in infantry and other ground-combat military occupational specialties.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that one woman completed Green Beret training as a captain in the 1980s.

Read more: Top Marine General Wants More Women Serving in Ground-Combat Jobs

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