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1st female completes US Navy special warfare training

U.S. Navy Special warfare combatant-craft crewmen (SWCC). (U.S. Navy photo by Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jayme Pastoric)
July 15, 2021

For the first time, a female sailor has completed the 37-week training course to become a Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman (SWCC) on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press reported the unnamed female sailor was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their SWCC course pins on Thursday. She is the first of 18 female sailors who have entered either the SWCC or Navy SEAL training pipelines to actually succeed.

Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III told the Associated Press, “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. Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.”

SWCC teams work closely with Navy SEAL units, operating specialized and heavily-armed watercraft in support of raids and other specialized operations. The Naval Special Warfare Command told the Associated Press , about 300 sailors complete the SWCC course every year, and there are between 760 and 800 in the force at any one time.

“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 said.

The U.S. military began opening combat roles to female service members in 2015.

The SWCC training course is the latest in a line of special operations courses to be completed by female service members. Almost exactly a year ago, the first female soldier completed the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course to become a Green Beret. In 2015, two female soldiers graduated from the Army’s Ranger school.

Of the nine females who have attempted U.S. Marine Corps special operations training, only two have made it to the second phase of training and neither of them finished.

Air Force Lt. Col. Malinda Singleton told the Associated Press that there currently are two enlisted females in the Air Force Special Warfare training pipeline for combat jobs. One has completed an assessment and selection course and will be eligible for an assignment in a special operations job if she finishes some final training. The other is in a preparatory course and hasn’t yet made it to the assessment phase.

Last fall, the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command quietly changed SEAL and SWCC unit creeds and ethos statements to be gender-neutral, sparking criticism at a time when no females had completed the rigorous training to enter either unit. Then-President Donald Trump said he would undo the gender-neutral changes to those ethos and creed statements, reverting them back to their original male-oriented versions.

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