First women to pass US Army’s Ranger School speak out
The first women to pass the grueling training course at the U.S. Army’s elite Ranger School said Thursday they hoped their success would open doors for women seeking jobs in frontline combat.
Lieutenant Shaye Haver and Captain Kristen Griest will graduate on Friday as the first women combat leaders to pin the coveted Ranger tag on their uniform, trained to become infantry leaders.
The U.S. military is currently considering opening up roles in previously male-only units to women, including some frontline infantry and Special Forces roles.
Appearing before the news media for the first time since they emerged battered but grimly triumphant from the Florida swamps after months of training, the young officers hoped their example would influence the debate.
“I do hope that we’ve been able to inform that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military, that we can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men and that we can deal with the same stresses in training that men can,” said Griest, 26.
Ranger School takes at least 61 days to complete and in some cases, if sections are repeated, many more.
Griest took four months to qualify, training for 20 hours a day and carrying 90 pounds ( 41 kilograms) of kit and weapons.
But she never thought of giving up.
“I never seriously considered it. I definitely had low points, particularly in the swamps in Florida,” she said.
“But I never actually thought anything was going to be too difficult that it was worth leaving the course.”
Haver, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, admitted she had thought about quitting, but that the shared experience of the men and women around her kept her going.
“There’s a point that you hit along the way, doesn’t matter where it is, it’s different for everybody,” said Haver, 25.
“But the ability to look around to my peers and see that they were sucking just as bad as I was kept me going and I’m pretty sure that they could probably say the same thing.”
Along with the two women, 94 men will graduate from Ranger School this week.
“A lot of the time, you couldn’t tell the difference between the men and women,” said Colonel David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.