Making US military history, Captain Kristen Grist and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver graduated from the infamously tough Army Ranger School on August 21, 2015.
They are the first women to ever earn the elite Ranger Tab.
The Ranger course is a grueling 60+ day physical and mental assault that compares to the also notoriously hard BUD/S course for the Navy SEALs. It’s basically two months of physical fitness tests, long marches with heavy packs, parachute drops, air assaults and mock combat patrols, through a variety of terrains, all with minimal food, water and sleep. It is the very definition of no joke (from what I understand).
Grist and Haver weren’t the only women to take on the challenge, there were 17 other female soldiers that have made the attempt. If 2 out of 19 sounds like a low number, keep in mind that in the current class only 40 out of 364 graduated (including Grist and Haver).
However you feel about the military, the significance of this achievement can not be overstated and the real world effects will be seen shortly. For right now, Grist and Haver are, like all the other graduates, Ranger “qualified”. That’s a requirement to become an officer or NCO in the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment. However, unlike their male counterparts, they still can’t join the regiment, or any front line units for that matter. The Pentagon is planning to make a decision on opening up combat roles to women this year, and 2 of the newest Ranger qualified candidates will certainly be a factor in that discussion.
If the Army had a female-only class, it would have proven nothing as skeptics would have suggested there were differences in testing standards and requirements. As graduates of the first gender-integrated Ranger course, Grist and Haver proved themselves just as tough and capable as their male classmates. No doubt it was even harder for them as they had the additional weight of future female soldiers riding on their shoulders as well as skepticism from a majority of the military community.
Indeed, Rangers Lead the Way.