The Navy finally appoints its first female warfare specialist—and the training was no joke

The Navy's first female warfare specialist will join over 700 men in the intense US military force

The Navy finally appoints its first female warfare specialist—and the training was no joke
(Image credit: guvendemir)

A US woman has made history by becoming the first female Naval Special Warfare operator, after successfully completing an intensive 37-week training program. 

The military sailor, who has not been identified, graduated from the grueling boot camp alongside 17 other Navy members on Thursday—and will now join the ranks of one of the toughest operation forces in the country. 

As a Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, or SWCC, the committed Naval officer is qualified to carry out highly classified missions on both domestic and foreign waters. She will assume a number of lofty responsibilities on duty, including the insertion and extraction of SEALs (Navy Sea Air and Land) and other Navy personnel from warfare vessels. 

When she's not helping her fellow troops, she will be expected to gather top-secret information on enemy forces and liaise with other military and law enforcement agencies. It's a tough job, challenging both the physical and mental strength of its 755 officers at every waking hour. 


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"Becoming the first woman to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment, and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare, said in a statement. “Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive, and leadership attributes required to join our force.”

The SWCC, which was established in 1987, holds a strong reputation for its sophisticated operation of military vessels and covert infiltration and exfiltration of SEALs. Based on the motto 'On Time, On Target, Never Quit!', its training holds little tolerance for excuses or errors. Of the participants who enroll in the course every year, only 35% will make it to the end. 

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SWCC troops must undergo intense training 

(Image credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

SWCC hopefuls are first put through a rigorous recruit training program, where they will undergo in-depth physical and psychological screenings. They will then enter a two-week-long course called SWCC Indoctrination, before embarking on 5 weeks of crewmember training. During this phase of their preparation, they will receive training in "water competency, basic seamanship, boat handling, teamwork, and mental tenacity". 

U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) pilot a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) during an International Special Operations Forces capacities exercise outside the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. The conference will provide a forum for military, including partner nations, government, academia, and industry stakeholders to network and discuss how to best support global Special Operations Forces (SOF) in today's environment. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SWCC troops out at sea 

(Image credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

After successfully nailing these skills, they will advance to a 15-week long training to sharpen their technical knowledge. It's not until the final stage of the program, however, that participants are truly pushed to their limits. The course wraps up with a three-day test known as 'The Fall', aptly named after its high failure rate. 

Once a participant has completed the course, they're put straight to work. They will either be deployed overseas, where they will be stationed near rivers or coastlines, or remain at one of the US military bases to continue their training. 

Emma Dooney
Emma Dooney

Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.