It's been over 18 months since the Pentagon announced women can serve in front-line combat positions. And although she has a long road of intense training ahead of her, a woman has officially become the Navy's first female candidate for the role of SEAL officer.
Another woman is on the path to becoming a special warfare combatant crewman, another position that was previously closed to women. Neither candidate is being identified by name due to security concerns.
"They are the first candidates that have made it this far in the process," said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command.
Both women have a grueling path ahead of them. In order to become a SEAL or SWCC, every candidate must make it through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, which is incredibly physically and mentally demanding.
According to the Navy, the enlisted SEAL attrition rate is 73 to 75 percent, so the majority of candidates don't emerge as SEALs or special boat operators.
However, the SEAL officer program has a higher rate of success, with 65% of candidates making it through. The officer program isn't any easier, though, and the Navy reports that the differing success rates are mainly due to a larger number of candidates in the enlisted program.
The female candidates will undergo the exact same training as men, and there will be no exceptions or allowances for the differing average physical capabilities between men and women.
Training is difficult for everyone, but Walton says each candidate faces different challenges: "It's different for everyone. It could be the physical stuff, it could be mental, it could be medical. There could be a lot of different reasons."
The two female candidates are closer to these two elite positions than any woman ever has been and that in itself is an incredible accomplishment. But it may be awhile before a woman officially lands the job.
"It would be premature to speculate as to when we will see the first woman SEAL or SWCC graduate," Walton said. "It may take months and potentially years."