First women to pass US Army’s Ranger School speak out

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LAU­RENT BARTHELEMY

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.

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