The only woman to ever begin the arduous process of becoming a Navy SEAL has dropped out of the training pipeline, throwing a wrench into an Obama administration directive that sought to open all military jobs to women.
The SEAL candidate – whose name has not been released as part of a Navy policy prohibiting the identification of SEALS or prospectives – voluntarily quit a summer course that is required of officers who want to climb the next rung toward SEAL training, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton told The Associated Press.
That course, the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program, is open to Naval Academy and Navy ROTC midshipmen and cadets during the summer before their senior year. Participants spend three weeks in Coronado, California, where they are tested on their physical and psychological strength, their water competency, and their leadership skills.
It is also the first in-person evaluation for candidates who seek to become a Navy SEAL officer and allows candidates the chance to compete against their peers in an equal environment. The course is a requirement before candidates can be selected for SEAL basic training, a six-month program so difficult that 75 percent of candidates drop out by the end of the first month.
Another candidate could become the first woman to serve as a Special Warfare Combatant Crewman, a position that opened to women in 2015 under former Defense Secretary Ash Carter. While they are not SEALs, they often provide support and also conduct missions of their own using high-performance boats. She is currently making her way through evaluations and standard Navy training.
While the Navy has yet to see women ascend to the most demanding special operations roles, two women successfully graduated from the Army’s notorious Ranger course in 2015. At the time, Major General Scott Miller, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, insisted that there were no changes to the program to make it more accessible to female candidates.