WASHINGTON -- A female National Guard soldier graduated from Army Special Forces training Thursday and earned the title of Green Beret, marking the first woman to do so since the Pentagon opened all combat jobs, including those in special operations, to women in 2016.
The New York Times first reported the women's ascension through the roughly yearlong course in February. The woman, an enlisted soldier, was on track to graduate in April but had to repeat part of the training before continuing to the final portion, known as Robin Sage, which tests the candidates on a range of skills considered essential to becoming a Green Beret, according to military officials.
The soldier's name and other biographical information have been withheld by the Army for personal and operational security reasons as she enters the secretive special operations forces.
But her socially distant graduation, where she received her Special Forces tab and put on her Green Beret alongside her classmates, is a landmark moment, as the Green Berets were one of the last assignments in the Army without any women. In February, there was at least one other woman, a medical sergeant, going through Special Forces training.
"Each and every one of you demonstrated the ability to meet the baseline standards and competencies for admission to our regiment," said Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette, the commander of the Army's Special Operations Command, who presided over the graduation ceremony held in a hangar at Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to a statement.
"From here, you will go forward and join the storied formation of the Green Berets, where you will do what you are trained to do: challenge assumptions, break down barriers, smash through stereotypes, innovate, and achieve the impossible," Beaudette said. "Thankfully, after today, our Green Beret men and women will forever stand in the hearts of free people everywhere."
The Army, along with the Marines, has slowly filled previously restricted roles with women in recent years. Although more than 700 women in the Army are in previously restricted jobs, a position in the special operations forces, with its crushingly high physical standards, had long been considered by some as unattainable for women.
Roughly 70,000 of the approximately 470,000 troops in the Army are women.
The newly graduated soldier, who is now a Special Forces engineer sergeant, was one of only a handful of women to have passed the initial 24-day assessment program that acts as a screening process before Special Forces training. The screening regimen tests candidates on fundamental military skills, including land navigation and marching with heavy combat gear, before they are evaluated by supervisors known as "cadre."
After the initial screening, candidates enter the qualification course. Its length depends on the soldier's military job, which for the Green Berets includes specialties such as intelligence and operations, weapons, medical, engineering and communications.