First females graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School

Capt. Kristen Griest, left,  and First Lt. Shaye Haver, right, were the first female graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger School. Photo courtesy of

Capt. Kristen Griest, left, and First Lt. Shaye Haver, right, were the first female graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger School. Photo courtesy of

Serena Gregory, Advertising Manager

Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver recently graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School, the first female students ever to complete the grueling course.

Yes, they are still barred from combat as rangers because of the regulations forbidding women to have these positions, but their success is still a barrier-breaking achievement, particularly in light of the many naysayers who suggested women were inherently unable to meet the elite standards.

The accomplishment marks a major breakthrough for women in the armed services at a time when each of the military branches is required to examine how to integrate women into jobs, such as infantryman, in which they have never been allowed to serve.

But even though the two new female graduates will be the first women allowed to wear the prestigious Ranger Tab on their uniforms, they still are not allowed to try out for the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations force that remains closed to women and has its own exhausting requirements and training.

The women will receive the Ranger Tab alongside 94 male service members in a ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., the home of Ranger School’s headquarters.

The female soldiers were allowed into Ranger School as part of the Army’s ongoing assessment of how to better integrate women. Opening the course to women is part of an assessment that all services have been ordered to undertake to determine how best to open the infantry, Special Forces and other ground combat jobs by next year. The Pentagon has ordered that all occupations be open to women after this year.

The services can request a waiver from some jobs, but would need to provide an extensive justification for doing so. The military services have been steadily opening jobs to women over recent years, but the infantry and special operations fields are the most physically demanding and require that troops live close together in often primitive field conditions. The breakthrough is coming, as the military is studying whether to integrate women in roles historically held only by men.

Under current rules, the two female graduates can earn the Ranger tab, but cannot actually serve as Rangers in the field. The chiefs of the military services have until October 1 to say which combat posts should remain closed to female service-members.

They are required to provide documentation to justify any exclusion. The Department’s policy is that all ground combat positions will be open to women unless rigorous analysis of factual data shows that the positions must remain closed. The decision is very important to Griest. She told reporters that she’s interested in joining the Army’s Special Forces.

Each and every soldier should have the opportunity to attend Ranger school. These two women were the first that came and met all the standards, and in the future, if the Army decides it, they’ll be happy to see more.