Women may start training as Army Rangers by 2015, and the United States may have its first female Navy SEAL come 2016, according to plans announced by the Pentagon to begin training women for thousands of front line jobs previously closed to them, including roles in the elite special forces.
Details of the plan were obtained by the Associated Press on Tuesday:
Under the schedules military leaders delivered to [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel, the Army will develop standards by July 2015 to allow women to train and potentially serve as Rangers, and qualified women could begin training as Navy SEALS by March 2016 if senior leaders agree. Military leaders have suggested bringing senior women from the officer and enlisted ranks into special forces units first to ensure that younger, lower-ranking women have a support system to help them get through the transition.
The Navy intends to open up its Riverine force and begin training women next month, with the goal of assigning women to the units by October. While not part of the special operations forces, the coastal Riverine squadrons do close combat and security operations in small boats. The Navy plans to have studies finished by July 2014 on allowing women to serve as SEALs, and has set October 2015 as the date when women could begin Navy boot camp with the expressed intention of becoming SEALs eventually.
U.S. Special Operations Command is coordinating the matter of what commando jobs could be opened to women, what exceptions might be requested and when the transition would take place.
In order to ease the transition for women assuming new combat roles, military leaders may bring senior women from the officer and enlisted ranks into special forces units, according to the report.