Wendy Laursen, The Maritime Executive
19 August 2015
In an interview on Monday, Jonathan Greenert, U.S. chief of naval operations, said the Coronado’s Naval Special Warfare command will soon report on whether it can accommodate women as SEALs.
The elite Navy Sea, Air and Land teams could include women as soon as 2016. Greenert said, “I see no reason (not) to say, ‘Here are our standards. Who wants to be a SEAL? You’ve got to meet the standards,” Greenert said. “Frankly, that’s the path we are headed down, but we’re not done yet.”
The Pentagon is almost finished a review of the physical standards for men and women and the effect of admitting women into elite combat forces. The review is part of a broader Department of Defense mandate reversing a 1994 ban on women in combat. The ban was lifted in January 2013.
However, the Associated Press revealed earlier this year that surveys undertaken within the U.S. military found that some men in U.S. special operations forces do not believe women can meet the physical and mental demands of the job. They fear that the Pentagon will lower standards to integrate women into their elite units. There were also concerns raised that women might be treated more harshly than men and may suffer sexual harassment.
Other branches of the U.S. military are already opening up more opportunities for women. The Army Ranger program was open to women for the first time in 2015. Of 96 graduates, two women completed the training that began in April.
In June, the U.S. Navy chose its first group of enlisted female sailors to serve in the U.S. Navy's submarine force. The initial applications were to fill four chief petty officer and 34 rating conversion positions across the two crews of the USS Michigan.