The U.S. Air Force amended its training standards for the elite Special Forces training program to advance a female candidate who otherwise could not meet the rigorous physical requirements. The Air Force admitted that it changed the “norms” for the program after an anonymous complaint was filed.
Trainees who quit the program are typically sent back to their previous duty station, but that did not happen with a particular female candidate who was retained after failing to meet physical standards and repeatedly quitting during training. A memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon indicated that the procedure was inconsistent with the Special Tactics unit’s “societal norms.”
The Air Force Special Operations Command acknowledged that it had amended the norms through a statement from Lt. Gen. James Slife. He said that the Air Force “brings trainees through the pipeline” has changed in 15 years. Slife added that understanding how to get trainees to “meet the standards” by the time they become part of the Special Forces has “evolved” and will continue to do so.
Obama’s Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened up combat roles in all military branches to women in 2015. That decision immediately led to special forces members expressing concern that lowered standards and decreased effectiveness would follow.
A service member who spoke anonymously to the Free Beacon said that the Air Force community is not against women in the Special Warfare unit. Still, the community wanted to see the first female “earn the beret and NOT be given it.”
Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) is a former Green Beret and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He said the military should be focused only on qualifications and not on gender and added all that matters is whether candidates meet the standards in place that have “made the American military the best in the world.”
The female candidate described in the memo received preferential treatment when she quit a swimming training exercise part of the Special Tactics officer selection procedure. She was then invited to return to training, an unprecedented deviation from standard practice. She also reportedly “self-eliminated” herself from several other tests.
Slife described the memo as “bullying and harassment” of the female candidate.