1st female sailor completes Navy special warfare training

A female sailor made history after completing a grueling 37-week training course to become the Navy’s first female special operator. 

The woman – who has not been identified due to military policy for special forces members – is officially a Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman. The boat operators transport Navy SEALs, conduct their own classified missions at sea and are experts with weapons, navigation, and special operations tactics.

She is the first of 18 women who have tried to become a SWCC or a SEAL to succeed just five years after all combat posts were opened to women. 

On Thursday, she was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins. She will now head to one of Naval Special Warfare´s three special boat teams.    

SEAL candidates participating in 'surf immersion' during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Center in Coronado, California

SEAL candidates participating in ‘surf immersion’ during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Center in Coronado, California

‘Becoming the first female to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,’ Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, the commander of Naval Special Warfare, said. ‘Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.’ 

‘She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms to deliver distinctive capabilities to our Navy, and the joint force in defense of the nation,’ Howard added. 

The female sailor’s accomplishment is no small feat, regardless of her gender.

Only about 35 percent of the men and women who begin training for SWCC actually graduate, the Navy reported. 

The demanding 37-week training course includes extensive running, swimming, and other exercises conducted in all weathe

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    Of the 18 women who have sought a Navy special operations job, 14 did not complete the course. Three of them, however, are currently still in the training pipeline, one for SWCC and two attempting to become SEALs, the Associated Press reported. 

    ‘The hardest part for a student is changing their mentality and habits,’ former SWCC school officer in charge, Chief Warrant Officer Four Joshua Hummel, said in a 2020 . ‘Anyone can show up to SWCC school for a day. It takes someone with self-discipline and mental perseverance to do it every day.’

    ‘From day one until they graduate the students have to realize becoming an elite operator isn’t something you do one day a week or two weeks a month, it’s something you do every day, icyimmersion it’s a lifestyle,’ he added. 

    The female sailor’s graduation reflects the inroads women have made in the U.S. military.  

    A year ago, a female soldier became the first woman to complete the Army´s elite Special Forces course and join one of the all-male Green Beret teams. One other female soldier has finished training and will report to her assigned Special Forces group next month, and another will be attending the Military Freefall School next month, and then will report to her team, AP reported. 

    As of now, no woman has successfully completed Marine special operations training, but since 2016 nine females have attempted to get through the assessment and selection process. Two of the female candidates made it through the second phase, but didn’t meet performance expectations and, along with a number of male counterparts, didn’t get selected to continue, Marine spokesman Maj. Hector Infante said.

    Only about 40 percent of the more than 1,200 Marines who went through the course since 2016 successfully completed it, Infante added. 

    Air Force Lt. Col. Malinda Singleton said that of this month, there are two enlisted females in the Air Force Special Warfare training pipeline for combat jobs that opened to women in 2015. 

    One has completed the assessment and selection course and will be eligible for an assignment in a special operations job as soon as she finishes some final training. The other woman is in the preparatory course and hasn’t yet made it to the assessment phase.

    Following graduation, the female sailor and her fellow graduates will head several missions that use fast and heavily armed boats, including conducting reconnaissance and disrupting enemy shipping and waterways. 

     ‘SWCC’s bread and butter is out in the open water of the ocean, and in the rivers,’  a Navy about Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen said. ‘There are roughly three to four crewmen per craft: a navigator, a helmsman, a throttleman, and an on-scene commander.

    According to Naval Special Warfare, about 300 sailors attempt the SWCC course every year and about 70 complete it. There are between 760 and 800 in the force at any one time.

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