Meet One of the Army’s Newest Rangers: Military Connection

Kristen Griest in training. Nikayla Shodeen / US Army

By Debbie Gregory.

Army Capt. Kristen Griest is one of the two women who have made history by making it through grueling Ranger School.

Griest, 26, of Orange, Connecticut, said her successful completion of the two-month program shows that women “can deal with the same stresses and training that men can.”

According to her brother, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mike Griest, an Army aviator, his sister loves testing her endurance. “If she had been allowed to go infantry out of college, she would have done that,” he said.

Griest receives her black and gold Ranger tab today at Fort Benning, Georgia. However, she will not be able to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment unless the military’s top leaders open all combat roles to women.

Griest, who said she had several peers and mentors who encouraged her to tackle the program, admitted that she felt some extra pressure as a female soldier.

“I was thinking of future generations of women,” she said, “so I had that pressure on myself.”

Cmd. Sgt. Major Curtis Arnold said he suspected Griest had extra motivation to graduate “because you know everyone is watching. And truthfully there are probably a few folks who want you to fail. So you’ve got to put out 110 percent.”

Officials say the Army, Navy and Air Force likely will not seek exceptions that close any jobs to women. Marine Corps leader have expressed concerns about allowing women to serve in infantry jobs, and may seek an exception.

The service branches will make recommendations to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter this fall.

Ranger School is considered one of the military’s most difficult courses physically and mentally, dating back to the 1950s. It includes phases at Fort Benning, on the mountains of northern Georgia and in the Florida Panhandle swamps in and around Eglin Air Force Base.

Women have been steadily making strides into previously male dominated jobs across the military. Women are also now serving on Navy submarines and in Army artillery units.

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Meet One of the Army’s Newest Rangers: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory