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

Eric Sof

Sweden military, Swedish Coastal Rangers - Kustjägarna (KJ)

Petra Malm is a former special forces female operator 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.

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 was first female operator in Special Forces and now a contender in TV Show SAS: Who Dares Wins
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 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.

World’s first female operator in Special Forces

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.

Life after Army

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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