It’s official: the U.S. Navy is planning to open its elite SEAL teams to women. Those select few who can pass the grueling training regimen, that is. In a recent interview, Admiral Jonathan Greenert stated that he and Head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Admiral Brian Losey both believe that if women are able to pass the six-month Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, they should be allowed to join the special ops forces. Just two days before, Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver — both of whom are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — made history for being the first two women to successfully complete Army Ranger school. The rigorous 61-day course requires applicants to perform parachute jumps, navigate obstacle ranges, traverse mountains and swamps, along with surviving weeks of combat patrols and strenuous physical tasks that include carrying a full pack during a 12-mile march.
The Pentagon lifted the ban on women in combat roles in 2013, but not all military branches are ready to welcome the ladies with open arms. Despite Griest and Haver successfully completing their training, they remain banned from trying out for the elite 75th Ranger Regiment — a separate combat unit that is related to the school. Currently, we are still waiting to find out if a decision will be made regarding whether or not women will be allowed to join the ranger units, according to retiring Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno.
“The feedback I’ve gotten with these women is how incredibly prepared they are,” Odierno told The Washington Post. “The effort that they’ve put forward has been significant. They’ve impressed all that they’ve come in contact with. They are clearly motivated — and frankly, that’s what we want out of our soldiers.”
As of now, only men can serve in special operations combat units, and not everyone supports the idea of women joining. There are those who believe that adding women to combat units will disrupt team cohesion and contribute to lower physical standards. Despite the huge milestone that was achieved by these two ladies and their graduation from Army Ranger school, one thing is clear: we still have a long ways to go in the fight for equality, on the battlefield and everywhere else.