For more than 120 days, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver have ground it out at Ranger School, the Army’s famously difficult school designed to build elite leaders capable of withstanding the rigors of combat. They’ve withstood fearsome weather, exhausting hikes, sleepless nights and simulated combat patrols designed to test their reaction time, teamwork and tenacity under fire.
On Friday, the two women will become the first female soldiers ever to graduate from the course at Fort Benning, Ga., receiving the coveted black and yellow Ranger Tab alongside 94 male counterparts. Griest, a military police officer from Orange, Conn., and Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot fromCopperas Cove, Tex., are among a group of 20 women who qualified to attend the first gender-integrated Ranger School beginning April 20, and the only two female soldiers to complete it to date.
The graduation of Haver and Griest, both in their 20s and alumnae of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., increases pressure on the Army to integrate women into more combat jobs. They have not previously been identified by the Army, but The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in Georgia were able to do so after observing Ranger School training several times this year.
Ranger School was opened to women for the first time in April as the Army assesses how to integrate women into more jobs in combat units across the service. That followed a January 2013 decision by senior Pentagon leaders to open all jobs to women, with the services granted until this fall to make recommendations on whether anything should remain closed. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter is expected to rule on each request by Jan. 1.
Don't care who you are, getting through this training is an achievement for the ages. I freely admit that I wouldn't last 30 minutes and these soldiers survived for months and didn't break. Rangers Lead The Way is their motto, and these two soldiers are certainly proving that.