SAS recruiters have women in their sights

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 10/08/2011

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Tough, super fit, female and keen to fight alongside Willie Apiata?

New Zealand's first woman SAS soldier could be serving in the world's troublespots within 18 months under new fast-track recruitment.

The elite unit announced yesterday that new recruits can now apply directly. Previously, aspirants had to spend several years in the navy, army or air force first.

Recruiters also want to attract the force's first female member. To date no women have passed the gruelling selection process.

Director of army recruiting Major Helen Horn said applicants would still have to join the army and indicate what trades they were interested in, but they could also opt for specialisation in the SAS.

"We haven't had any women passing selection yet. But we are really keen to get women through," she said.

" There are no barriers at all to that. So long as women meet the selection criteria, we are keen to see them in the SAS.

"But there is time and training in which people can build up to meet that. If people are determined and want it, then there is potential there."

An ideal candidate for the unit was "smart, very determined, very resilient, obviously fit, motivated to serve New Zealand and who are very open to learning", she said.

"This is not about boosting the numbers of the SAS. What we are looking at is providing people with the opportunity who may have seen not getting confirmation that they could apply for a few years as a barrier. It also it gives us the ability to attract a more diverse range of people."

If hopefuls apply by September, they could make the first SAS selection in January, which lasts for 10 days.

Stand-out applicants will be invited to a presentation, and if successful can decide to undertake rigorous training for the SAS.

"If someone is interested in this they really need to apply now," Major Horn said.

Within 18 months a new recruit could become a badged member.

The starting salary for a recruit is $31,000 with increases related to specialisation.

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- The Dominion Post

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