First Female Soldiers Pass Army Ranger Course

…but still can’t serve in “combat units”

Cherokie DesJardins, Staff Reporter

Two women recently made history by completing the US Army Ranger Course in late August.  Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver are the first women to graduate from the school for special operations unit. This is the first year the Army opened up the course to women on a trial basis. This course has proven to every soldier that no matter your gender they can reach their full potential.

But no one knows quite what it means, and the Department of Defense is not sure what awaits these women. Unlike the male graduates, the women cannot join the 75th Ranger Regiment, it is not just an elite special operations force but designated as a “combat unit” which bars female soldiers. The Pentagon will not make any final decisions until later this year on what combat roles these women will be allowed to fill.

The first class started up in April with 381 men and 19 women. They were forced to train with minimal food and very little sleep. They had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains, and swamplands. They had to undergo a physical fitness test that included 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a five mile run (with gear) in 40 minutes, six chin ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a twelve mile foot-march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults from helicopters, and 27 days of mock combat patrols.

At the end of the 62-day course there were 94 men and 2 women left that met all of the requirements. The course wasn’t changed for the women because of their gender. They still had to meet all of the requirements that the men did. Everything stayed the same and they achieved what the men did.

Everyone is very proud of these women. Perhaps most importantly, the men who graduated with these women say that they did everything that was asked without complaint, that they pushed through and did an amazing job.

But until Army policy changes, their accomplishments may remain more symbolic than significant.

UPDATE: as of press time, according to the Washington Post, a third female soldier, 37-year-old mother of two Lisa Jaster has also passed Ranger School (where the Army says the average age of the male graduates is 23).