An Army “First”: Women Complete Ranger School

Captain Kristen Griest, left, and 1st. Lt. Shaye Havers are among 96 soldiers recently graduated from the Army's elite Ranger School.

Captain Kristen Griest, left, and 1st. Lt. Shaye Havers are among 96 soldiers recently graduated from the Army’s elite Ranger School.

Two women completed the Army’s elite Ranger School training and were graduated with 94 males. The “G.I. Janes” have earned the right to wear the coveted black and gold Ranger tabs on their uniforms.

 Captain Kristen Griest, 26,  and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, are the first women to pass the grueling combat training of the Army’s Ranger School. Griest is a military police platoon leader and Haver is an Apache helicopter pilot. Both are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (USMA).

 Ranger training tests a soldier’s ability to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress during combat operations. The nine week training course consists of three phases that include military skills,  survival skills, small unit operations, airborne assault, amphibious operations, and extreme physical and mental stress. Also included are physical fitness (which is the same for males and females),  endurance and  27 days of mock combat patrols. On average over 34% of Ranger School graduates repeat at least one phase of training. Nineteen women and 381 men started  Ranger School in April. Griest and Haver finished the course in 4 months. Of the other 94 graduates, 40 completed the course in nine weeks.

 Although Griest and Haver are Ranger-qualified, they remain barred from the 75th Ranger Regiment. However, it is among special operations units likely to eventually be opened to women. Former Army captain Sue Fulton, who in 1980 was among the first women to graduate from USMA, sees the women’s graduation as another milestone toward ending gender barriers in the military. “This answers whatever questions may still remain about whether women have the strength, the will and the physical courage to become combat leaders,” she said.

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