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First woman enters US Navy SEAL pipeline

Navy SEAL Trident. (U.S. Navy)
July 24, 2017

Recently there has been some perceived confusion surrounding females who might be attempting to become U.S. Navy SEALs or part of the Navy’s Special Warfare Combatant Crewman (SWCC) team.

American Military News reached out to the U.S. Navy to clarify.

While the U.S. Navy has seen one woman enter the pipelines of training to become the Navy’s elite, “female joining the Navy SEALs” is not the most accurate portrayal.

“This summer, a female midshipman will train with other future officers in a course of instruction that is a prerequisite for officers who want to attend SEAL training,” according to Lt. Commander Mark Walton of the Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs Office.

“SEAL Officer Assessment & Selection (SOAS) is part of the accession pipeline to become a SEAL and the performance of attendees this summer will be a factor for evaluation at the September SEAL Officer Selection Panel,” he recently told American Military News.

There is also currently one female enlisted candidate in the training pipeline for the SWCC team, Walton said, who also pointed out it would be “premature” to say the candidate has “started SWCC training.”

The SWCC is a specialized team that often supports Navy SEAls, but they are not Navy SEALs; being on the SWCC team does not mean someone would become a Navy SEAL.

Walton told American Military News that “the accession pipeline includes several screening evaluations and months of standard Navy training” – including the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), Officer Candidate School (OCS), Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) and Recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois – “before [a candidate’s] arrival at Basic Underwater Demolition School training [BUD/S],” a six-month Navy SEAL training course.

“Based on operational security realities, the identities and progress of candidates through the accession pipeline will not be discussed,” Walton said.

Also, last year, one SWCC petty officer notified their chain-of-command that they identified as being transgender, Walton told American Military News.

“Naval Special Warfare adheres to the Department of Defense’s Transgender Policy and has made all resources available to the service member,” he said. “All personal and medical information related to the service member is being withheld for security and privacy concerns. We remain committed to ensuring that all who are qualified and wish to serve have the opportunity to do so.”

Walton pointed out that the Navy has “an obligation to protect the identities of each candidate, since each special operator who goes through training and reports to an operational unit will likely conduct sensitive operations in defense of our nation.”