Last month, a U.S. Army soldier became the first female to successfully complete modern-day special forces training. On Thursday, that soldier became the first-ever female to receive a Special Forces Tab and Green Beret, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command confirmed in a statement to American Military News.
The female soldier received her tab and beret at a “COVID-compliant” graduation ceremony on Thursday alongside her graduating class. Her identity will not be revealed, as customary for U.S. Army Special Operations Command service members.
At the graduation ceremony, Lt. Gen. Fran Beaudette, Commanding General for U.S. Army Special Operations Command stated, “Each and every one of you demonstrated the ability to meet the baseline standards and competencies for admission to our Regiment.”
“From here, you will go forward and join the storied formation of the Green Berets where you will do what you are trained to do: challenge assumptions, break down barriers, smash through stereotypes, innovate, and achieve the impossible,” Beaudette added. “Thankfully, after today, our Green Beret Men and Women will forever stand in the hearts of free people everywhere.”
Anonymous defense officials told The Associated Press the soldier is a member of the National Guard and graduated with 400 classmates. She is one of three soldiers female soldiers to go through the qualification course, but the only one to complete it and graduate so far.
The female soldier was originally expected to graduate in April, but had to repeat Robin Sage — the final portion of the qualification course — which she completed in June, The New York Times reported.
Rep. Elise Stefanik previously released a statement on June 25 confirming the soldier’s course completion and upcoming graduation.
“The graduation of the first female U.S. Army Green Beret is an important and hard-earned milestone,” said Stefanik. “This achievement is a testament to this soldier’s individual strength, courage, and commitment, and also an important institutional milestone for U.S. Special Operations Command as it embraces the cultural change that will continue to make it the most successful and elite Special Operations Force in the world. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities – which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Special Operations Command – it is truly an honor to congratulate this newest Army Special Forces soldier for her accomplishment. I hope she is the first woman of many to wear the illustrious Green Beret.”
In 2015, Former President Barack Obama opened up all jobs within the military to women.
The soldier is a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (18C) with the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, SOFREP first reported. While small in stature, the female soldier is big in spirit; at just over five feet tall, she has “big hopes” of going active duty, SOFREP reported.
While she reportedly passed while being held to the same standards as male soldiers, the new graduate still has challenges to face.
“Her walking into a Special Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) team room will not be high fives and handshakes: Culture takes time to adapt to change,” SOFREP reported. “There are plenty of older generations still within the Regiment that believe there is no place for a woman on the team. However, new graduates accept it, if the woman can pass the same standards.”
While this female soldier is the first to pass modern training, she is walking in the footsteps of other women who made history in the special forces.
In the 1980s, Captain Kathleen Wilder became the first woman to be eligible for the Army’s Special Forces under a different selection process.
Capt. Wilder was initially told she had failed a field exercise during the Officers Special Forces Course at Fort Bragg and would not qualify for the Unconventional Warfare unit, but after filing a complaint of gender discrimination, Brigadier-General F. Cecil Adams determined Wilder was wrongly failed. The commanding officer of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Donn Albert Starry, awarded Wilder the Special Forces identification code, and she was authorized to wear the Special Forces tab in 1983.
In the 1970s, intelligence analyst Katie McBrayer served in an operational role with Blue Light, a Special Forces counterterrorism element, although she did not graduate from the Q Course.