CORANADO, Calif. (Jan. 27,2009) Basic Underwater Demolition(BUD)/SEAL students carry an inflatable boat along the beach at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado during their first Surf Passage. This is one of many evolutions during the first phase of BUD/S training where students will be tested both mentally and physically. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Blake R. Midnight/Released)
A few women soldiers have earned the Army's coveted Ranger badge. A female Marine will be the first woman to enter MARSOC's grueling selection process. But no women have stepped up to join the Navy's most elite combat units more than a month after they formally opened.
No women have applied to join the Navy's most elite units, but leadership says that's to be expected.
The Navy officially opened the pipeline to The training pipeline for Navy SEALs and special warfare combat-craft crewmen opened in early March, the same week of Recruit Training Command's latestmost recent special warfare screening panel, butthough no women made that deadline.
The next board convenes in June, which could put women currently in boot camp on in Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in September and then on to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in December, per according to Naval Special Warfare's integration plan.
To date, however, no women have taken that first step, the Navy's top officer said. said.
"We'll just have to see," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told Navy Times in an April 13 interviewWednesday. "It's one of those things — we can turn the faucet on all the way. We just have to see how much comes through."
Special operations veterans are split over the integration of the storied SEAL teams, with many concerned that women's inclusion will eventually dilute NSW's notoriously tough physical standards. These standards , even just to apply, will weed out many women considering special operations, but Richardson reiterated that standards won't change to accommodate them.
"You can't do that, right? Because then you start to impact mission effectiveness," he said in the April 13 interview. "And it's sort of one of the guiding principles, I think, for successful integration."
Richardson commanded the submarine force was the commander of Naval Submarine Forces in 2011 when the Navy began screening women for sub duty, and his team took a similar tack to special operations as they did with that previous effort, researching traditionally male-only jobs inside and out of the Navy.
They found, he said, that gender-neutral standards were necessary. And further, they validated that the way NSW trains future SEALs and SWCCs doesn't need any watering down.
"What are the ingredients to maximize your chance for success?" he said. "This idea of standards and treating everybody as equally as possible was one of those things that is really fundamental to success."
CNO Adm. John Richardson
Photo Credit: Alan Lessig/Staff
Physical training is one thing, but as a former SEAL points out, joining the teams requires more than a fast swim time and a strong tolerance for sleep deprivation.
"In these units, in the military, there are non-politically correct methods of determining if somebody's going to be there or not," said former Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Kevin Lacz.
More specifically, "team-building" exercises, he continued: "And I changed that name from what it used to be, the 'H' word."
Richardson said the SEALs' current indoctrination process has been thoroughly reviewed and doesn't involve any hazing. denied that characterization of the SEALs' current indoctrination process, which was part of the Navy's review prior opening it to women.
"Part of that gender-neutral approach is, you take a look at that standard," he said. "Is that standard really critical to mission success? And yeah, we validated that all our training programs contribute to missions success. There's not any kind of ritualistic thing that goes on that doesn't contribute to mission success."
Time will tell once when women begin signing up and making their way through the training pipeline, but Richardson is confident that the standards are right and that women want to rise to the occasion.
"What we also learned is that the women, they also want to be part of that cadre, as much as the any of the men," he said. "So they don't want any exclusions. They're not looking for any exclusions."
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