In another first for women seeking combat jobs, the Army has approved applications from two female officers to attend Special Forces Assessment and Selection class, an early step toward becoming a Green Beret.

In all, 340 applications to SFAS were accepted, according to Maj. Melody Faulkenberry, a spokeswoman for the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center. Nine total women applied for Special Forces among a total of 460 applicants; those rejected may potentially be offered slots in other two Special Operations branches: civil affairs and PSYOPS. In all, 860 officers applied to the three fields.

The accepted applicants have not yet received orders, but they could attend SFAS as soon as the fall when the first of 10 SFAS FSAS courses per year begin at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. With a long process ahead, it will be 2018 before anyone in this crop of candidates could earn tabs.

Little information is available about the two women: one went to officer candidate school and the other attended a four4-year ROTC program. Faulkenberry cited security concerns for potential Special Forces soldiers. By definition, as officers invited to SFAS the women are either 1st lieutenants or captains, and this cohort of officers was generally commissioned around 2013.

These officers are entering one of three routes to Special Forces. Enlisted soldiers and recruits who directly enter the Army with an 18x MOS to try out for Special Forces apply in a different process. But all have to attend SFAS FSAS and a similar subsequent battery of courses, with some variances depending on role.

Before approval for SFAS, soldiers must pass Special Forces Readiness Assessment, a base-level test of a soldier's physical fitness. The push-up, sit-up, pull-up and running benchmarks considerably outstrip Army Physical Fitness Test requirements to filter out anyone who might be physically overwhelmed by training requirements. There is no requirement difference based on gender or age, and all who even apply to SFAS must pass, Faulkenberry said.

The bulk of the path to earning a Special Forces tab remains in front of them after their application is accepted: the 3-week SFAS itself, Airborne School if not qualified, either Maneuver Captain's Career Course or Special Operations Captain's Career Course (12-16 weeks), and finally the 64-week Special Forces Qualification Course. 

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