The first woman ever to do so dons the green beret.
The woman’s name is being kept classified to protect her identity for the security of missions, but she is an engineer sergeant and a recent graduate of the Special Forces Qualification Course.
With the woman joining the ranks of the Green Berets, that marks one more force in the United States Armed Forces that is no longer entirely male.
By the end of 2015, women were allowed to vie for positions in all army combat roles:
They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men.Defense Secretary Ash Carter
But since the Green Berets are a unique force with a particularly demanding training program, they have yet to see any female soldiers join their ranks—until now.
The new graduate was not the first woman to qualify for the force. Another woman, Capt. Kathleen Wilder, completed Green Beret training when she was 29, but she was denied the ability to graduate just before she was scheduled to in August 1980.
This sex discrimination led her to file a complaint. When it was investigated, Brig. Gen. F. Cecil Adams found that she was, indeed, discriminated against and unfairly denied graduation.
So, a graduation certificate was sent her way. The AP interviewed her after graduation:
It isn’t important that I wear the hat. I’m not at all hung up on a hat like a lot of the men are. It doesn’t matter to me whether I ever wear it or not. What matters is that I’m officially qualified.Capt. Kathleen Wilder
She didn’t ever wear it—she became a lieutenant colonel before she left the Army in 2003.
But now another qualified woman will be wearing the hat, paving the way for other women to prove their abilities and join the Special Forces.
Featured image source: K. Kassens