Army Ranger Women Make History

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Women making history? It’s what we do.

Recently, Capt. Kristen Greist and 1st Lt. Shay Haver were the first women in history to successfully defeat the courses at the Army’s Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

To top that, this was also the first year in which the Army even allowed women to make an attempt at these courses. 

The Army Ranger Course is “the Army’s premier combat leadership course, which teaches Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations,” according to the Pentagon.

To say the least, completing this course is something special in itself.

Split into three sections the course begins with a physical fitness assessment. According to CNN, it includes: 49 push ups, 59 sit ups, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours (while carrying a 35-pound ruck sack), multiple obstacle courses, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters and 27 days of mock combat patrols.

Then it’s on to the mountain phase where 20 days are spent learning how to survive under the most sever conditions possible where students are subject to hunger and sleep deprivation. Finally, the course ends in Florida where the last few days focus on boat and shore operations, according to military information.

With a starting class of 381 men and 9 women in April, the end of the 62 days saw only 96 men and two women left standing. Overall, only about 3% of soldiers in the U.S. army earn this badge, says the Wall Street Journal.

During this three-month period, Ranger students undergo some of the most difficult physical and mental challenges possible. From severe weather and hunger, to unimaginable mental and physical fatigue, this test truly tests the limitations of each student who passes through.

Several of their fellow classmates witnessed and agreed that both women were more than physically and mentally capable of the challenges they were given at hand. However, skepticism over whether or not the women were being given special treatment and whether their standards were lowered has been building. People magazine claimed that the women didn’t have to carry as much weight as the men and weren’t taking turns carrying the heavy machinery.

But the women demonstrated their worth through the effort and thorough completion of the course. Maj. Gen. Austin S. Miller said “the women met every requirement the men did, the standards are still the same… a 5-mile run is still a 5-mile run.” These women deserve this achievement and they deserve to continue to accomplish more milestones that have yet to be completed.

Unfortunately, the future is uncertain for these two now extremely qualified women. Although they earned the coveted black and gold ranger tab, they are not allowed to join the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment. “The Army and other services must decide by the end of this year if they will continue to block women from serving in combat roles that have previously been off limits to them,” says the Wall Street Journal.

The completion of the course by the women was a big step in the direction towards female equality. The accomplishment of Greist and Haver on this course shows that women are just as capable as men and breaking ground through achievements could lead to more female interest in military positions. Together we women can continue to prove that we have the same right to serve for our country as men, and demonstrate female power throughout the U.S. and the world.