By Debbie Gregory.
High-ranking Army officials met with Rep. Steve Russell, R-OK, the congressman who has questioned the process that produced the first two women Ranger School graduates.
On September 15th, Russell, a Ranger-qualified retired Army lieutenant colonel with combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh. In it, he requested patrol grade sheets, spot reports, phase evaluation reports and sick call reports for Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, the first women to graduate from Ranger School.
Now, a group of female West Point graduates is pushing back, filing a Freedom of Information Act request, demanding the congressman’s Ranger School records.
“If Congressman Russell claims that Rangers lie, and can be influenced to ignore standards, perhaps he experienced that when he went through Ranger School. We would like to see definitive proof that he is entitled to his tab,” said Sue Fulton, a former Army captain and 1980 West Point graduate, on behalf of the group.
“One of the things that’s motivated us is that this is the same stuff that’s gone on for 40 years,” she said.
Russell wrote a Facebook post that said, “The records request on the recent Ranger classes that included females is to investigate serious allegations that are being made by members of the military.” The allegations were that standards were lowered to allow the women to graduate.
Army officials have repeatedly denied the women received special treatment.
After Griest and Haver’s graduation, the Army officially opened Ranger School to all who qualified regardless of gender.
Retired Col. Ralph Puckett, 89, whose name is etched in Army Ranger lore, said that he welcomes the women and supports the leadership of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, Col. David Fivecoat and Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Arnold.
“I will say the same thing I said before, they met the standards and they deserve the tab,” Puckett said.
Miller, Fivecoat, Arnold and the Ranger instructors who oversee the course would not be a party to saying the standards were met if they weren’t, Puckett said.
Throughout the entire process, Army officials — including Miller, Fivecoat and Arnold — have maintained the standards were not lowered.