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Being SOF Operator is ‘nearly as tough as being a mum’

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Sweden military, Swedish Coastal Rangers

Petra ‘Pam’ Malm is a former special forces soldier from Sweden. Once upon a time, she was the first female in the world to pass special forces selection and become a World’s first Special Forces female operator. Today, a 41-year-old female is contesting on Channel 4’s TV show named SAS: Who Dares Wins. In this TV show, civilians are going through gruel training in extreme weather conditions. The fourth season is filmed in the snowy Andes in Chile.

Petra Malm during one of her deployments - Being SOF Operator is ‘nearly as tough as being a mum’

Petra Malm during one of her deployments to Afghanistan (Photo: The Sun)

Petra Malm told her story in front of cameras and restored the popularity she had a long time before after she passed selection. She served in the Special Forces equivalent of the Navy SEAL in her home country after becoming the first female in the world to do so. Highly trained and super tough, she risked her life in Afghanistan eight times.

Pam was the pioneer of female warriors serving in the elite units in the world. It was in 2007. In an exclusive interview for the British Sun, she revealed: “I felt very proud to be the first woman to join. I passed the same tests as the men. Nobody could push me down. I ran as fast as they could, I carried the bags as long as they did and that was really important.”

As far as Petra is concerned, admitting females to the world’s toughest military units is a no brainer.

She said: “A woman can bring so much more to the team. Enemies look at you in a different way because you are female. You can go a bit further as you are so ‘innocent’. You can use it to your advantage.”

“I passed the same tests as the men – nobody could push me down.”

Unfortunately, not all of Petra’s male brothers-in-arms saw it that way. Some said they would refuse to be in a unit alongside her, while others scrutinized her every move, hoping she would fail.

She said: “After I had passed all the tests, some people thought it was great. They could see the bigger picture of what the unit could gain from having a female. But then you had some guys who didn’t think females should be there. It was a tough start for me and for the first six months I had a much rougher path than the guys. Everyone was looking at how much I could lift and how I did with the physical tests. When a female walks in and she’s done the same as the men, they feel kind of threatened and vulnerable. They got a bit competitive.”

Despite their hostility, Petra — who was known as ‘Pam’ in the unit — says she never hesitated or considered throwing in the towel.

She added: “Some guys did say horrid things. One said ‘I don’t want to work with you, I don’t want to be in the same unit as you’. That’s rough when you have done the same selection and training. I was sad inside but I kept going. I had to work harder than the men and I knew it was going to take time. I had to prove myself.”

“You need to have the inner motivation because otherwise, you are going to fail.”

Petra called time on her career after ten years. But it wasn’t the grueling training or the hostility of some colleagues that led to her decision. It was the arrival of her daughter, which meant the prospect of putting herself in a life-risking situation with a little one at home became too much to bear. She quit in 2017.

Petra, who did not want to give details of her partner, said: “When I got back after having my daughter, I didn’t think it was so fun. I had a resistance to the high-risk jobs and I felt I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was a really difficult period in my life. Being part of the Special Forces is the best job in the world and I worked with some amazing people. But once I became a mum, I realized ‘oh s**t I am done’. It took me a long time to see I was done but now I am glad I have given it up.”

Before joining the Swedish Special Forces, Petra Malm served for seven years with the regular Swedish army.

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British Special Forces Lacks of Recruits

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British Army soldiers boarding Chinook

British elite special forces, including SAS and SBS, are 200 soldiers short after ­recruitment plunged 20 percent. The lack of “good quality” soldiers has hit the Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS) and SRR, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. Hardest hit is the Special Boat Service, down in numbers by around 100. The SRR needs 60 and the celebrated Special Air Service – motto Who Dares Wins – is 40 light. Each unit normally has 340 to 400 operators.

Senior defense sources say the SBS and SRR are now classed as being “over-stretched” with troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Baltic States and Africa. The shortage is being linked to cuts and a recruitment and retention crisis affecting the rest of the armed forces.

The British Army is down in size from around 150,000 in 1990 to 78,000. Despite that reduction, the SAS and the SBS have remained the same size.

A military source said: “The talent pool is shrinking. A lot of guys who built up experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and who would often see the special forces as the next step have left. In the last 25 years, the SBS has increased in size and the SRR has been created but the Army has shrunk around 40 percent. So there are fewer quality people coming through. But we have been down this road before and it hasn’t had an impact on our operational commitments. It means that everybody has to work harder to get the job done.”

Twice-a-year selection courses are tough and an average pass rate of 10 percent has led to as few as eight recruits. One serving member of the SAS said: “Life is tough. You spend a lot of time on operations, overseas exercises and on courses. It is unrelenting.”

British Special forces earn about £30 extra a day but experienced operatives can earn far more in private security. The British MoD does not comment on special forces.

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Witness seeks immunity to testify against Navy SEAL accused of battlefield murder

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Chief Gallagher - Witness seeks immunity to testify against Navy SEAL accused of battlefield murder

Prosecutors could gain an ally in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of executing a young ISIS fighter during the battle of Mosul in 2017 and his commanding officer, who allegedly failed to report the incident.

Author of the article:

An attorney for a fellow SEAL has requested immunity for his client in return for testifying that Chief Edward Gallagher called in “false target coordinates to engage a mosque” and put his team at risk, yet Lt. Jacob Portier failed to relieve him on several occasions, Navy Times’ Carl Prine first reported.

Gallagher is charged with premeditated murder for allegedly using his knife to kill a wounded ISIS fighter and then posing for a reenlistment video next to the man’s corpse. Portier has been charged with obstruction of justice and related offenses for allegedly destroying evidence in the case and lying about Gallagher, as well as dereliction of duty for allegedly not stopping Gallagher from wounding two non-combatants.

The SEAL who served with Gallagher and Portier is requesting immunity so that he will be protected against any possible retaliation in the future, said attorney Michael Hanzel, who is defending the SEAL along with his wife Lauren and a Navy attorney.

“Our client has done nothing wrong, and we believe the record will demonstrate that,” Hanzel said in a statement to Task & Purpose.

“It is never an easy thing to be placed in the middle of a situation like this, but it is crucial to the integrity of the military justice system that witnesses in a case as high-profile as this are protected from retaliation later. The only way to ensure that is through grants of immunity, which is why we requested that for our client.”

The SEAL is showing “great courage” by offering to testify about what he witnessed during the deployment with Gallagher and Portier, said Hanzel, who added his client is not seeking any publicity, nor does he bear a grudge against any of the accused SEALs.

The full article can be found here.

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