WASHINGTON - The US Navy plans to open its famed SEAL fighting units to women, provided they can pass the notoriously difficult training course, Defense News reported Tuesday.
The move comes as the military announced that two American women will on Friday become the first female soldiers to graduate from the elite Ranger School combat leadership course.
"Why shouldn't anybody who can meet these (standards) be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason," Admiral Jon Greenert told Defense News.
"We're on a track to say, 'Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.'"
The Navy SEALs have carried out some of America's most dangerous and storied raids, including the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the late Al-Qaeda leader, in Pakistan.
Aspiring SEALs must undergo the so-called Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training - known as BUD/S.
The six-month course includes eight weeks of basic conditioning peaking with "Hell Week," during which two thirds or more of would-be SEALs quit.
"Sheer fatigue and sleep deprivation will cause every candidate to question his core values, motivations, limits and everything he's made of and stands for," according to the website NavySeals.com.
SEAL is an acronym for SEa, Air, Land teams, reflecting the special force's capabilities.