New York Times report about “first female Green Beret” was allegedly inaccurate

Special Forces candidates assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School listen to a briefing during the final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, July 9, 2019. Robin Sage is the culmination exercise and has been the litmus test for Soldiers striving to earn the Green Beret for more than 40 years. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)

News of the “first female Green Beret” has been delivered with mixed reporting, including some factual errors, according to special operations news sources.

The female Army National Guardsman who is slated to be the first woman to don the beret and serve on a team within the Special Forces has been assigned the occupational specialty of an 18C, or Special Forces Engineer Sergeant.

While some outlets, such as the New York Times, claimed the female Guardsman was effectively guaranteed the position, sources speaking to SOFREP claim that the Soldier not only has a ways to go but there are two women currently enrolled in the course.

The unnamed 18C-to-be has yet to complete the Robin Sage exercise, as well as other parts of the MOS portion of the Special Forces Qualification Course.

In their article, SOFREP criticized Marine veteran and NYT reporter Thomas Gibbons-Neff for his reporting inaccuracies.

“Gibbons-Neff stated that ‘the woman, an enlisted soldier, is in the final stage of training before graduating from the roughly yearlong qualification course, or Q Course, as a Special Forces engineer sergeant. Her graduation is almost guaranteed, officials said, although occasionally soldiers have failed the course this late in the training or withdrawn because of injuries,’”

SOFREP writer John Black wrote. “Gibbons-Neff does keep the names of his sources private, and for a good reason, since his information is not accurate.”

Black went on to note that National Guardsmen tend to do well when going through the process to become a Green Beret- but that one’s affiliation is no guarantee.

“Historically, after being selected for training, National Guard soldiers tend to do very well, with an average graduation rate of 80 percent,” he wrote. “But it is key to highlight that her graduation is far from guaranteed, and she has yet to come close to the final stages.”

The second female candidate is reportedly behind schedule after she was recycled for a failed portion of the course.

Even if the women pass, they “technically” won’t be the first to do so. In the 1980s, Captain Kathleen Wilder became the first woman to be eligible for the Army’s Special Forces, but was told just before graduation that she had failed a field exercise and could not be a candidate.

She later filed and won a discrimination suit.

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