The first woman applicant ever to try out for the Navy SEALs has dropped out. She was in the training pipeline since July 24 before her decision to quit. Only since 2016 have women been permitted to apply for the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection (SOAS) program, as Task & Purpose reported.
Her identity is being kept secret by the Navy. The three-week course she dropped out of was the initial process to beginning the Navy’s notoriously grueling advanced training program.
The initial stages include physical screening evaluations. The applicant completed just half of them. Had she completed the evaluations she could have been reviewed to go into a 24-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training course. That course has a 73 percent drop out rate, as reported by NTD.tv.
“People try and fail on their own merits, and we respect the individual for the risk,” said an unnamed Navy official to Task & Purpose. “And whatever happens, they’re doing it to serve and protect their country.”
To pass the Physical Screening Test and be considered for the more advanced training, an applicant needs to meet the following standards:
500 yard swim in 12.5 minutes
50 push ups in 2 minutes
50 curl ups in 2 minutes
10 pull up in 2 minutes
1.5 mile run in 10 minutes 30 seconds
Those are just the starting points. The optimum fitness standards are a bit harder to reach:
500 yard swim 8 minutes 50 seconds
100 push ups 2 minutes
100 curl ups 2 minutes
20 pull up 2 minutes
1.5 mile run 8 minutes 50 seconds
Only 160 applicants are selected and 100 SEAL spots filled for the class she applied for, as Military.com reported. The Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego is where the training takes place. There are still two females trying to make it through training in the Navy’s Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, another elite Navy program.
Arguments in the comments section of Task & Purpose articles are intense and many of the article’s commenters purport to being in the military or having served before. Comments range from worries about the military lowering its requirements so women can join men in combat, to the loss of battlefield effectiveness by bringing women full-scale into roles traditionally held by men. There are also worries about the psychological impact of men and women fighting side by side, and if women should be allowed in any combat roles at all. Commenters recall previous instances of the military lowering standards to suit women entrants.
“When you have to reduce standards—as you would have to do, you would have to do it—and when you would mix, you know, when you mix eros, when you mix affection for one another that could be manifested sexually, I don’t care if you go anywhere in history, you will not find where this has worked. Never has this worked,” said United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, in a report by NTD.tv.
The Navy has not stated it will lower its standards to make it capable for more women to succeed in more elite forces roles.