A female soldier crosses the Yellow River on a rope bridge during Ranger School training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
A defense official confirmed Wednesday that Capt. Kristen Griest, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is scheduled to graduate Friday from Ranger School at Fort Benning.
In April, 19 women and 165 men became the Army’s first gender-integrated Ranger class, part of the Army’s efforts to study how the service could effectively integrate women into traditionally male-only combat-arms jobs.
The Pentagon describes Ranger School as “the Army’s premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations”. In the case of the new female graduates, they are not allowed to apply as the rules stand today.
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Echoing that fact, more than 9,000 women have been recognized for their service, receiving Army Combat Action Badges for “actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy”, according to a recent Congressional Research Service study. A female Ranger student is pictured (middle left).
The announcement did not spell out which military occupational specialties (MOSs) will be open to women, but directed the DOD to complete studies on the potential for women to serve by September of 2015, the end of the fiscal year, and implement the recommendations by January 2016.
The decision to open Ranger School to women was controversial in some circles, and officials added that they wished, at least for the duration of the course, to spare them – and their families – the withering online commentary by those opposed to their presence in the school.
In July, it was reported that three women and 158 male counterparts finished the most selective portion of training, known worldwide for its difficulty, before the second phase was completed. A graduation ceremony will be held on Victory Pond here for those students, who met the standards of the entire Ranger Course. The review was launched to improve the process to select both men and women for the positions while reducing injuries, said Army Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt, a SOCOM spokesman.
On a farewell visit to San Diego Monday, Greenert said he had been briefed on the preliminary findings of the Coronado Naval Special Warfare Command’s study on whether women should be accepted into the SEALs.
The Army hasn’t released the women’s names.
Blumenthal said Griest and Haver show that standards do not need to be lowered in order to accomplish that goal.
But women are increasingly being permitted into combat roles in other US Army units. That could change. Carter is due to decide in coming months whether to approve any recommended exceptions to a policy of opening all military positions to women.