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First woman to complete modern Green Beret training set to graduate this week

Special Forces Qualification Course graduates stand at attention during their course graduation ceremony in Fayetteville, N.C. (Dave Chace/U.S. Army)
July 08, 2020

Last month, a female soldier in the National Guard became the first woman to successfully complete modern-day special forces training. Now she is expected to receive her Green Beret and Special Forces tabs at a graduation ceremony this week.

The soldier passed Robin Sage, the unconventional warfare training and Special Forces Qualification Course culminating in early June, propelling her to the coveted Green Beret graduation ceremony. That ceremony is expected to take place on July 9, Rep. Elise Stefanik confirmed in a statement.

“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. This marks the first time since that historic move that a woman successfully completed a Special Operations channel and will join an operational team.

Because of the atypical nature of the ceremony, the graduation is expected to be held in a closed hangar to protect the soldier’s identity, SOFREP first reported. Her identity has also been withheld in reports for security reasons.

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The soldier is a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (18C) with the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group. 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.

Captain 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.

Commanding officer of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command General Donn Albert Starry awarded her the Special Forces identification code.

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.