The first women to ever finish Army Ranger School graduated at Fort Benning on Friday in a well-attended, history-making ceremony that ended a six-decade period of the school being an all-male institution.
The Army Ranger school at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia is one of the most grueling experiences in the military and less than half of the soldiers that enter the school graduate.
On Friday, Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver became thefirst women to earn the coveted black-and-yellow tab when they graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School alongside 94 male soldiers.
The women drew national attention for finishing the nine-week program which is a notoriously hard combat leadership course.
Four hundred soldiers – including 19 women – started the gruelling Ranger training in April, but Griest and Haver were the only women to complete the full course. Though Haver and Griest at the moment are Ranger-qualified, no ladies are eligible for the elite regiment, though officers say it’s amongst particular operations models more likely to be opened to ladies ultimately.
Addressing the graduates, Maj.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Captain Griest said she hopes her success shows that women “can deal with the same stresses and training that men can”. “I was skeptical they could handle it physically”, said Second Lt. Michael Janowski, who had previously attempted the course twice.
Miller turned his speech toward the many naysayers, especially online, who continue to express beliefs that the Army lowered its standards. Under a 2013 directive from then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the military services must open all combat jobs to women by next year or explain why any must stay closed.
Before they even get accepted to Ranger school, soldiers should be able to do at least six pull-ups, 49 pushups in two minutes, and 59 sit-ups in two minutes.
“We are universally in awe of what these two female Rangers have accomplished”. Both are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “We were all just Ranger students”.
“It’s pretty cool that they have accepted us”, she said.
2nd Lt. Erickson D. Krogh, an infantry officer, said “at the end of the day, everyone was a Ranger and it was the same throughout as long as the team pulled through and accomplished the mission”.
“I never seriously considered it. I definitely had low points, particularly in the swamps in Florida”, she said.
The pressure of paving the way for future generations was not lost on her, she said.
MARGARET WARNER: This was the first year the Army has allowed women to try to qualify or the elite Ranger force. “We’re all very, very proud of her. It’s a tremendous achievement not only for her personally but for the Army and women in the military in general”.