Status Of Women In Our Elite Fighting Forces

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on December 3, 2015, that all military occupations and positions will be open to women. This includes all of our elite fighting forces.

He announced

They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

So what is the current status of women joining our elite fighting forces?

Surprisingly, most people are unaware that female soldiers have already been deployed to Army Special Operations Forces (spec ops). As reported in 2011 by Military.com:

In a controversial move early this year, the Army created a new avenue for women to serve with front-line combat units in some of the most specialized and covert missions. The so-called “Cultural Support Teams” are attached to Special Forces and Ranger units to interface with the female population to gain vital intelligence and provide social outreach.”

There have also been other successes. For example, in October, 2015, the U.S. Army reported Major Maj. Lisa Jaster, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, became the third female graduated from the Ranger course at Fort Benning, Georgia. She joined two other Army Rangers, Capt. Kristen Griest, 26 and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, all of whom are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The Ranger course is one of the toughest in our military. Indeed, 36 percent of students fail in the first four days. But the remarkable thing is Major Jaster was 37-years old, married to a Marine Corps Reserve officer, and has two children.

So how did she beat the odds and complete the Ranger course? Jaster got physically fit incorporating cross-training with her physical fitness regimen. She practiced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and included her husband in her training program.

But, there have been few other success stories. The Marine Times reported in August, 2016, that one female Marine officer failed her 84-day course Infantry Officer Course (IOC) program for the second time.

The Army Times reported in September 2016 that a female non-commissioned officer (NCO) failed the course to join the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment. She did not meet “performance standards” but is eligible to reapply this December.

And the Washington Times also reported in September 2016 that the first female enlisted soldier failed the course to become a Green Beret.

A number of veterans have strong opinions of having women in our elite fighting forces. Ray Starmann, a former US Army Intelligence officer and veteran of the Gulf War, believes feminism is the root cause of allowing women in our military’s special operations forces. He opined:

Feminism is now in the process of destroying the US military as no enemy of this great nation ever could. If the current policies are allowed to continue, feminism will be responsible for the demise of the US military in a future war and the fall of the Republic.’

And four former Green Berets discussed women in spec ops community in Episode 6 of a series of roundtable webcasts, Specifically,

It’s not a male or female thing, rather being able vs. unable. He (Jim West) goes into a story about what could happen if someone couldn’t do a pull up, or any of the physical aspects of the job, and the very real consequences.”

So what’s the bottom line? Brushing aside those who do not believe women should be there, it appears that physical fitness is the number one reason women are not being able to join spec ops forces. If they want to be successful, they need to follow Major Jaster’s success story by becoming more physically fit that they ever thought possible!

Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]