WASHINGTON — The commander of the Navy's special warfare units is recommending that the SEALs and combat crew jobs be opened to women, but he warns that women will have greater risk of injury and says the service may be pressured to adjust or lower standards for the jobs.
In a five-page memo, Rear Adm. Brian Losey said that "there are no insurmountable obstacles" to opening the commando jobs to women, but he warned that there are "foreseeable impacts" to integrating them into ground combat units. Losey is the head of the Navy's Special Warfare Command, which includes the SEAL teams and special warfare combatant craft crewmen.
Losey's memo to U.S. Special Operations Command was obtained by the Associated Press. It comes as the U.S. military services are in the final weeks of discussion over whether to ban women from any frontline combat jobs. The Army, Navy and Air Force are expected to open all positions to women, but Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who just left his post as commandant of the Marine Corps, has recommended that certain Marine infantry and ground combat jobs remain closed to women.
Dunford became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday.
While Losey outlines many of the same concerns as the Marine Corps has about how women will fare in some of the military's most demanding jobs, he comes to a different conclusion. Allowing all qualified candidates to "test themselves" against the difficult physical, mental and other standards required to become a special warfare officer "is ultimately the right thing to do and is clearly consistent with the struggle over centuries to fully represent our nation's values of fairness and equal opportunity," his memo says.
He said that while there may be "external" pressure to adjust the standards so that women can successfully pass, it's not likely that would succeed. The standards, he said, have been honed over the past 50 years, and 70 percent of men fail.