Retired commander reacts to report that Navy SEALs will open to women

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Students in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 279 participate in a surf passage exercise during the first phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf passage is one of many physically strenuous exercises that BUD/S class 279 will take part in during the seven weeks of first phase. The Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land.

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CORONADO, Calif. – Just as two women are about to become the first female soldiers to graduate from the Army’s Ranger School, the U.S. Navy is preparing to allow women into its SEAL teams.

"It’s at least five to ten times more challenging to train as a SEAL for combat than it is to actually train to be a SEAL and go through Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training,” Retired Navy SEAL Cmdr. Mark Divine said.

Divine owns and operates SEAL Fit in Encinitas to help train men and women both physically and mentally, as SEAL candidates are trained.

"I would make that statement that there are women who can make it through Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal (BUD/S) Training and there are women who can make it through SQT. I think that our training has proven that,” Divine said.

Divine said before becoming a Navy SEAL, candidates are put through some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding training in the world. BUD/S is designed to weed out the weak, but there is much more than being male or female or the physical requirements that make a SEAL.

“The leaders who are very intelligent – super brilliant – I hope that they consider that first that women who join are joining for the right reasons -- they want to be a SEAL serving their country on the very front end of the war on terror,” Divine said. “Be willing to go through hell and gunfire and be willing to bring their teammates home and able as opposed to, ‘I think I’m fit enough to make it through SEAL training.’ Because those are two very different things.”

And even though the Navy’s top brass have said they will allow women into the SEAL program, no timeline for when women would be allowed into the elite training program has been provided.

"SEAL training is a simply different animal. That’s why it has the reputation it has -- and it’s earned,” Divine said.

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