By Jeremy Herb - 01/27/13 03:01 PM EST
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal predicted Sunday that women will eventually become part of special operations units like the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, saying that including female servicemembers could improve the elite groups’ operations.
McChrystal, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he supported the move from the Pentagon this week to lift the ban on women serving in combat.
“You already see them serving in functions around those units: intelligence, pilots and whatnot,” he said. “There are positions that are much better for females, there are things you can do in special operations with females that are more difficult to do with just males. So I think it will come.”
McChrystal noted, however, that there are still plenty of complications surrounding implementing the policy move.
Both he and former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday that the physical standards for combat positions cannot change, even though women have different general fitness standards.
“If the standard is here, and only a small percentage of women could match that standard for reasons that are biological, the standard has to stay there,” Hayden said. “Otherwise you’re risking mission success.”
While the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in combat, it’s still unclear yet whether women will be allowed in special-forces units like the Army Rangers. The Pentagon is giving the military services until 2016 to request that some occupations or units remain closed to women, a decision that the secretary of Defense must agree to.