Two women have made history by becoming the first female candidates vying for two elite special operations jobs in the United States Navy that were previously closed to women.
The first woman, a midshipman or an officer cadet, is set to train with other potential officers in the hopes of becoming the first female Navy Seal.
The other is training to become a special warfare combatant crewman, CNN reported on Sunday (July 23).
News of the women's enlistment comes more than a year after the Pentagon in January 2016 allowed women to serve in combat roles, including in the special operation forces such as the Seals and the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC).
Their enlistment was confirmed by the US Navy, although their identities have not been disclosed due to security reasons.
Although there have been eight Seal and seven SWCC classes since the historic move to allow women into combat roles, there had been no female applicants since then.
"They are the first candidates that have made it this far in the process," Lt Cmdr Mark Walton, spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command, was quoted saying by the NPR website.
Lt Cmdr Walton told CNN the Seal candidate will be evaluated for three weeks at a Seal Officer Assessment and Selection process in California as a prerequisite to undergoing Seal training. The candidate will then move on to face a Seal Officer Selection Panel in September.
Meanwhile, the SWCC candidate is expected to go through months of navy training and screening evaluations.
Aspiring Seal and SWCC candidates also have to undergo the rigorous Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal training, a gruelling process that is designed to be both physically and mentally challenging.
In addition, they also must undergo basic conditioning, combat diving and land warfare training that includes a five-and-a-half day stretch of what is known as Hell Week. According to the Seal's website, during the stretch, the candidate "sleeps only about four total hours but runs more than 200 miles (about 322km) and does physical training for more than 20 hours per day", adding that it is "the ultimate test of a man's will".
While the two women have already made history, they still have a long way to go before making the cut.
About 73 per cent of Seal candidates and 63 per cent of SWCC hopefuls fail to make the cut, according to the Naval Special Warfare Centre.
Lt Cmdr Walton added that out of the 1,000 Seal candidates who start training every year, only about 200 to 250 candidates usually make it all the way.