First female Green Beret set to graduate Special Forces Qualification Course

Jack Murphy
June 18, 2020 - 10:26 am
Special Forces selection

Photo by K. Kassens

Students attending the Robin Sage exercise began filtering back into the schoolhouse yesterday, exhausted but also excited. Robin Sage is the final cumulative exercise in the Special Forces Qualification Course run at Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall. It is the final exam required to pass in order to earn the coveted green beret of U.S. Special Forces. The exercise simulates an unconventional warfare environment in a fictional nation called Pineland.

Among the students expected to graduate is a young enlisted woman of Eastern European descent. Having passed Robin Sage, she will now graduate and become the first woman to wear the Green Beret, according to multiple sources at the Special Warfare Center. 

The soldier completed the final phase of training but hasn't received her performance counseling yet to make it official, according to a Special Warfare Center spokesperson. U.S. Special Operations Command did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

The New York Times reported in February that she was graduating, but this was premature. One of the hurdles that potential Special Forces soldiers have to pass in order to graduate is called "Tac Skills" which the Army website describes as, "the tactics phase (Phase III), which lasts seven weeks, drills candidates in advanced marksmanship, counterinsurgency, urban operations, live-fire maneuvers sensitive site exploitation and other Special Forces skills."

The female Special Forces student was on track to graduate but then recycled Tac Skills, meaning that she had to do the entire phase of training over again for not meeting the standards. Recycles are not entirely uncommon, and sources speaking to Connecting Vets said that she is a good soldier and just needed additional training. On her second try, she passed Tac Skills and moved on to Robin Sage.

As previously reported by Connecting Vets, Robin Sage instructors were pleased with at least some of the training modifications made due to COVID-19. For them, it meant more time training students out in the field, and less navel-gazing back in garrison. One instructor told Connecting Vets that students would be isolated out in the field during training and that student medics would closely monitor their teammates for symptoms of the virus.

Despite these mitigation measures, one student Special Forces team going through Robin Sage had to come back from the field early as it was suspected that a student had COVID-19, sources said.

None the less, the enlisted female soldier met the training requirements at Robin Sage. There are still two days left in Robin Sage for clean up and final performance counseling, but sources inform Connecting Vets that she will in fact be graduating the Q-Course. The Regimental First Formation, as it is called, will be held inside a closed hangar, as instructors do not want a lot of media fanfare around the first female to graduate the course. This may sound to some like they are minimizing her achievement, however, they want to provide her the opportunity to serve quietly on a Special Forces detachment as a fully-fledged team member, sources said. If the media turns her into a celebrity, then she could be forced into a role as a poster girl who wears a green hat.

There are currently other female soldiers in the Special Forces training pipeline. Some have previously dropped out of the course.

Green Berets are deployed to well over 100 countries every year where they train, advise and assist allied military forces and are also prepared to clandestinely infiltrate hostile nations and wage unconventional warfare.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.