Who’s to say what might soon be in store for the elite armed forces unit that took out Osama bin Laden? If top special forces commander Admiral Eric T. Olson is correct, the Navy SEALs could soon have female enlistees.
Admiral Olson, a Navy SEAL himself, told ABC News that he would like to see women in SEAL combat roles by the opening session of the 2011 Aspen Security Forum:
“As soon as policy permits it, we’ll be ready to go down that road,” said Olson.
He added that being a SEAL is not just about physical strength. “I don’t think the idea is to select G.I. Jane and put her through SEAL training, but there are a number of things that a man and a woman can do together that two guys can’t,” said Olson. “I don’t think it’s as important that they can do a lot of push-ups. I think it’s much more important what they’re made of and whether or not they have the courage and the intellectual agility to do that.”
While women do serve in the special forces in information and civil affairs capacities, there are reportedly no female SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers or Marine special operators due to an exclusion policy enacted in 1994 prohibiting women from serving in ground combat units.
Admiral Olson, however, reportedly believes females are in a unique position to form bonds with local women in, as ABC put it “conservative societies,” which, given the most recent SEAL operation, might mean Islamic ones.
And according to ABC, “Cultural Support Teams” comprising two to four women each have already been attached to SEAL teams and Green Beret units. The Admiral said 56 additional women graduated last week, “all of whom will be in Afghanistan by the end of August.”
“We don’t have nearly enough,” Olson told ABC “and we’re too late bringing them into what it is we have them doing.”
ABC went on to explain that last March the Military Leadership Diversity Commission recommended that the Department of Defense eliminate female combat exclusion policies. The MLDC alleged the policy curbs military women’s chances for recognition and promotion.
Now some argue that placing women in combat roles can jeopardize the mission at hand, as men serving alongside women might feel overly-protective and hence, make choices they normally wouldn’t — choices that could compromise their operation and the safety of those in the unit. Then there are questions as to whether women possess the same level of physical stamina and brute strength men do. Given these possibilities, do you think it wise for women to serve in combat roles, and specifically, in the SEALs?