The British Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced this week that they were expanding the roles for women in the British military and now they will be able to serve in the SAS (Special Air Service). This includes the Royal Marine Commandos and the SBS (Special Boat Service). In 2016, the British MOD opened up infantry and armor MOS’ to women, but for the first time.
British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said he was “delighted” to announce what he called a “truly defining moment.”
“Our Armed Forces will now be determined by ability alone and not gender,” he posted on Twitter. But will they really?
Is there going to be a standard for men and another for women for the SAS?
Several experts have chimed in with their thoughts on the subject and some have stated unequivocally that the standards will change. One article stated:
“It is understood the possible changes will be made to the initial phase of the SAS and SBS (Special Boat Service) selection, which is when recruits are expected to march over hilly terrain carrying increasingly heavy loads. On some of the longer marches, The Sunday Times has learned, female soldiers may be allowed to carry less weight and will be given extra time to complete the tests.”
If that is indeed the case, it would destroy morale and put any female operators in an unwinnable situation. They would never be accepted as equals by the men of the Regiment if their standards weren’t the same.
The Daily Mail from the UK put out a statement, that could be a feeler to test the waters as such if indeed the standards are lowered.
The SAS, whose selection process is considered among the toughest in the world, could be planning to permit female applicants to carry lighter rucksacks during grueling marches.
The MOD denied that there was any thought of doing just that. In fact, the unnamed source from the MOD went the other way in speaking of the standards.
‘There is a determination to get women into the special forces.’
‘There will be changes to the selection of women but it is not about lowering standards — it’s about leveling the playing field.’
The SAS was founded in 1941 and was created to conduct long-range commando raids far behind enemy lines. Their training course is legendary for its toughness. The initial phase at the Brecon Beacons consists of rucking over some serious mountainous terrain with a rucksack that gets increasingly heavier, a rifle as well as food and water.
Two prospective candidates died of exposure in the Brecon Beacons not long ago. One of the gated events for SAS involves a march over the Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the range. The final test in the initial phase is called, “the endurance”, where candidates have to march 40 miles over the mountains without stopping carrying a minimum of a 65-pound rucksack within a specified time.
There have been discussions on social media about the SAS using women years ago in Northern Ireland. However, those were intelligence operations where women who were trained intelligence operatives were utilized because of skills they already possessed. They weren’t badged operators and going thru the various selection courses is an entirely different animal.
Our feelings here in regard to the British SAS would mirror exactly how we feel about women in the American Special Operations Forces. I’m for anyone who will help the unit accomplish its mission and uphold the standards of the Regiment.
But there is the rub, no one should be afforded the opportunity for the simple sake of inclusion if it involves the lowering of standards in the regiment. We had a flap in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) about a year ago when some NCOs who are cadre members at the schoolhouse complained that the standards were being lowered in order to meet the requirements for new operators.
Lowering the standards ultimately means lowering combat ineffectiveness. That can never be tolerated for any reason and that involves “inclusion”. If units begin allowing weak links into them, then the already overtasked, competent operators will have to pick up even more slack as they will be put in harm’s way for operators that can’t measure up to the standards.
Some have said that the US has already lowered its standards to accommodate women, a couple of women have already passed Ranger School. Back in 2013 Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that with women now eligible to fill combat roles in the military, commanders must justify why any woman might be excluded – and, if women can’t meet any unit’s standard, the Pentagon will ask: “Does it really have to be that high?”
I believe that anyone who wants to volunteer to become a member of the Special Operations community, regardless of race, gender, religion etc. be given the same chance as anyone else to attempt to become a member. But if they do, they should receive no special treatment and the standards that are already set have to remain intact, no exceptions.
Unfortunately, many of the SJWs that are championing the cause of inclusion have never spent a day in the military, never mind a Special Operations unit. As the Defense Secretary has stated, the mission of the military is a lethal one and the stakes that the operators are playing for involve their lives. And that fact must never be allowed to take a lesser degree of importance than meeting the latest cause du jour.
We spoke with several Brits that are friends of ours that were involved in all facets of the military either in intelligence and Special Operations and they aren’t convinced that the standards will remain the same. In fact, they believe the opposite is going to happen. And they are worried that lowering the standards is going to hurt combat performance.
Photo: British MOD