Kit Up!

Admiral Olson on female SEALs in combat billets.


According to a recent story from ABC News, Admiral Eric Olson (cc/USSOCOM) recently said he’d like to see female SEALs in combat roles. Speaking at the 2011 Aspen Security Forum, he said there was more to being a SEAL than physical strength.

Sgt. Adams, FET 12, 1/8 Marines, Shir Ghazay

"I don't think the idea is to select G.I. Jane and put her through SEAL training, but there are a number of things that a man and a woman can do together that two guys can’t,” the Admiral told Forum attendees. “…it's much more important what they're made of and whether or not they have the courage and the intellectual agility…"

You may remember Kit Up! discussed something along these lines a couple of months back. CSTs and the FETs that preceded them have received a lot of attention and have been successful. They’re not a new idea, as the Marines of the Lioness Program can attest.

Let us try to preempt some of the inevitable outcry. No one is saying females must equal male counterparts in every way, and this is an important distinction: the use of females in SOF capacity is, frankly, a force multiplier. There will be many who decry the idea and go on and on about how females who can’t hump ten klicks in full kit, but that’s really beside the point. We think it’s time to end the “we have two different PT standards and they’d never make it as a grunt” stupidity and look at the big picture. You don’t throw away an M4 because the bullet isn’t as heavy as a 12-gauge slug or go as far as a .50 cal round. A suppressed H&K MP5 won’t take a deadbolt like breaching shotgun, but that doesn’t make the MP5 a bad weapon? You use the right weapon for the right job, and this is no different.

PO2 Richeal, Team Leader FET 15, Sangin District

A SEAL team or ODA with females has versatility an all-male team does not…which doesn’t mean they would automatically need to take female members on a HALO drop followed by a twenty mile overland hump straight into a MOUT assault.


Don’t focus just on direct action. The advantage of ‘hearts and minds’ interaction provided by females has been proven—isn’t FID part of SOF’s job description? Perhaps the SEALs aren’t supposed to do it, but look at pseudo-operations. A male and a female team would attract less attention than two males especially if they’re trying not to look like they’re there to break things and kill people.

FET of PRT Farah discusses women’s shura in Shib Koh Afghanistan.

There are other advantages. A female perspective as relates to the observation of the interior of the house their male counterparts haven’t been in can be of value—where the kids are, or where occupants live relative to the layout of that and other residences may be an indicator of caches or contraband. A map of the interior, drawn by a tactically proficient female, could be invaluable in a later raid. Women are also more active listeners than men. Years of police service have proven that. They may be able to read the lines of what is being said by the females in the house vs. what the males are saying and thereby identify falsehoods or misrepresentations.

Female LEOs on the range during tactical course.

Anyway, here’s the original story. Let the brouhaha begin.

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