Special Operations Forces Mixed-Gender Elite Teams

Authored by:
William Knarr, Jessica Glicken Turnley, Donna Stewart, Rich Rubright, Jason Quirin
Published on 6/1/2014
Digital Only

On 24 January 2013, the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) rescinded the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule (DCAR) that excluded women from assignment to units and positions whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground. In doing so, the SecDef directed the opening of all occupational specialties, positions and units to women; the validation of gender-neutral standards for those positions; and establishment of milestones for implementation. In a March 2013 memorandum, Commander USSOCOM directed several initiatives as a result of the SecDef's DCAR rescission. While other studies examined individual performance and standards, the JSOU Center for Special Operations Studies and Research examined the effects on team dynamics. The challenge for this study was to determine if changing the gender component of Special Operations Forces elite teams from single-gender (masculine) to mixed-gender would affect team dynamics in a way that would compromise the ability of the team to meet a mission objective.