The Navy now has its first female candidates for SEAL officer and Special Warfare Combatant Crewman, but it’s possible the first female who joins the SWCC could actually be a male petty officer who transitioned in 2016.
Naval Special Warfare Center Deputy Commander Capt. Christian Dunbar stated in June that two female candidates had joined the boot camp for the SWCC program, Military.com reports.
But the first female who joins an elite Navy force may actually be transgender, as Capt. Jason Salata, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Command, told Military.com that a SWCC petty officer informed his command in October 2016 that he was transgender.
Another woman, who is currently a junior in a ROTC program in college, has put her name forward for a place in the SEAL officer program, which begins October 1. She will complete the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program in the summer.
Salata declined to identify the candidates in more detail and said the Navy would not be providing updates on the candidates’ progress through the training.
However, Salata noted that only one female remains in the SWCC program.
Rear Adm. Brian Losey, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, said in September 2015 that while the SEALs should open up to women in principle, the fact of the matter is that the elite fighting force may face aggressive political pressure to lower standards. Moreover, Losey doubted the idea that including women in the SEALs would at all raise combat effectiveness, as they suffer far more injuries than men, among other issues.
Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter officially opened up all combat roles to women in December 2015.
The attrition rate for the SEALs’ Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class is between 73-75 percent. For the special boat operator class, the attrition rate is 63 percent. Notably, however, about 65 percent of SEAL officer candidates make it into the elite community.
Still, Salata wants to avoid needless speculation about when the first woman will enter an elite Navy force.
“It would be premature to speculate as to when we will see the first woman SEAL or SWCC graduate,” Salata told Military.com “Managing expectations is an important part of the deliberate assessment and selection process; it may take months and potentially years.”
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