The Navy’s Special Warfare commander is recommending that the SEALs and special combat crew jobs be opened to women. He also warns that women will be at a greater risk of getting injured and that the service may be pressured to either lower or adjust its standards for the jobs.
Komonews reports that in a five-page memo, Rear Admiral Brian Losey said that there were no insurmountable obstacles to opening the jobs for women. He also added that there are “foreseeable impacts” to integrating them into ground combat units.
Losey’s memo, which was obtained by the Associated Press, comes at a time where the military is contemplating opening all combat positions to women.
Currently, the Air Force, Army, and Navy, are expected to open all combat positions to women. The Marines, however, have not made a final decision in that regard.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who recently left his position as commandant of the Marine Corps, recommended that certain Marine infantry and ground jobs remain closed to women.
Dunford is now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The admiral’s memo outlines some of the same concerns the Marine Corps has about how women will handle some of the most demanding jobs in the military, but he came to a conclusion different than Dunford’s.
According to the memo, Losey believes that allowing all qualified candidates to test themselves against the standards required to become a Special Warfare officer is the right thing to do. He also believes that it is consistent with the nation’s values of fairness and equal opportunity.
The SEALs commander stressed that putting women in the commando jobs is not expected to increase the units’ ability to fight in combat. In the memo, he said the current efforts to integrate the units “will channel focus and energy away from core combat readiness and effectiveness efforts.”
Losey said there may be external pressure to adjust the current standards to make it easier for women to pass the tests, but it’s not likely to succeed. He said the standards have been refined over the past 50 years, and 70 percent of men fail.
“With the recent female graduates from the Ranger course, there may be an expectation that there will soon be female graduates from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (the SEALs training course),” he said. “We will welcome any candidate who meets standards.”
In the memo, he recommended that Special Warfare Command should manage expectations, and remove the candidate’s gender identity from the application process so that the most qualified will be selected, regardless of their gender.