Military Connection: The Path to Special Ops for Women


By Debbie Gregory.

In years past, society had us believe that only men went to war, while the women stayed behind to hold down the fort. But with more and more women joining the armed forces and serving their country, these ideas need modernizing.

Approved by Army Secretary John McHugh, the Army will now allow as many as 60 women to participate in the next Ranger course, a grueling, two-month combat school, marking a first in the Army’s history. This course is regarded as one of the first steps into the military special operations field. It would not, however, allow them to become members of the Ranger Regiment, which is a men’s only position.

Part of an ongoing campaign to eliminate the Direct Ground Combat Assignment Rule, the changes are dismantling, in phases, policies that have prohibited women from serving in combat units below the brigade level.

Since 2012, when the campaign began, almost 50,000 jobs have been opened as gender neutral. This includes jobs within artillery and maneuver units, primarily being brigade and combat teams.  There are also a few hundred positions opened in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which is currently recruiting women to serve as pilots, mechanics, and other duties within the unit, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, currently has one female member. Service in the Night Stalkers is one of the most prestigious and sought after positions, as they are responsible for flying the helicopters that carried the Navy Seals into Osama Bin Laden’s compound in 2011.

This spring, some 80 women are scheduled to attend the training and assessment courses that will be held at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Additionally, the organizations being opened to women, thanks to Army Secretary John McHugh include: Army Special Operations Command (Airborne); Army National Guard Special Forces Group (Airborne) Battalions; Military Information Support Operations Command Tactical Psychological Teams; Special Forces Military Free Fall Operations, and associated additional skill identifiers 4X for officers and W8 for enlisted soldiers.

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Military Connection: The Path to Special Ops for Women: By Debbie Gregory