Female Navy SEALs on the Horizon?

Navy SEAL enters the water.
An East Coast-based Navy SEAL exits an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter and enters the water during “Helocast and Recovery” training on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia, Aug. 15, 2013. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Meranda Keller/U.S. Navy)

With recent legislation paving the way for women in the military partaking in combat roles, it was inevitable that talk eventually would 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 the SEALs to women.

Admiral William McRaven, head of Special Operations Forces, said he guarantees that there are women who will pass training and become SEALs, and they will do a phenomenal job. He, however, cautions 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 Lt. Col. Gary Sargent said his main concern is whether 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 already has experienced greater gender integration in its armed forces, and female soldiers constantly have had to resist government measures to lower standards for women.

"I have to be very clear: You have to meet the physical standards, because the job is still the same,'' said Col. Ingrid Gjerde, a Norwegian officer who has served for 25 years. "It works very well as long as women hold the standards."

Want to Know More About the Military?

Be sure to get the latest news about the U.S. military, as well as critical info about how to join and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Story Continues