Male Classmates Validate Female Rangers: Military Connection

Male Classmates Validate Female Rangers

By Debbie Gregory.

The August Ranger School graduating class was the first to include women graduates; two to be exact. The women earned not only their Ranger Tabs, but also the respect of their male classmates.

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were two out of 19 women who enrolled in Ranger School, alongside 380 men. Of those male students, 94 graduated with Griest and Haver. On average, 40 percent of males successfully complete the course.

A third woman who started the class has opted to recycle through the Mountain Phase.

Male classmates may have been skeptical at the beginning of their first course, but it didn’t take long for the men to realize these women were capable, both physically and in determination.

During Mountain Phase, 2nd Lt. Michael Jankowski credited Haver as the one who stepped up when he needed help.

Jankowski said he found he was at a point where he had to turn to a teammate.

“I had a lot of weight on me, and I was struggling,” he recalled. “I stopped and asked if anyone could take some of this weight.”

The males in his platoon hesitated. “I got a lot of deer-in-the-headlight looks and guys were like ‘I can’t handle any more weight,'” he said. Haver offered to take some of Jankowski’s load.

“She was the only one who would volunteer to take that weight,” he said. “She took the weight off me, and carried it. … She literally saved me. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now. From that point there was no more skepticism.”

Spc. Christopher Carvalho offered a similar testimony during the Ranger Assessment (RAP) Phase week. Here, students carry a 47-pound rucksack along with other gear on the march.

“One particular incident that stood out in my mind was the 12-mile ruck march during RAP week,” he explained in a recent interview.

“These two women finished well ahead of some of the males,” he said. “Right there and then – that validated it for me that these women are here to stay. They are carrying the same weight we are, and they are doing the same stuff we are.”

“It’s pretty cool that they have accepted us,” Haver said. “We ourselves came to Ranger School skeptical, with our guards up, just in case there were haters and naysayers. But we didn’t come with a chip on our shoulder like we had anything to prove.

“Becoming one of the teammates — that we could be trusted just like everyone else — whether it was on patrol or to carry something heavy or whatever — it was that every single time we accomplished something it gave us an extra foothold in being part of a team.”

Griest agreed.

“My main concern in coming to Ranger School was I might not be able to carry as much weight or not be able to meet up to the same standard,” she said. “I tried to do as much as I could, and I saw everybody else helping each other out and you just try to be the best teammate that you can.”

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Military Connection: Twelve Women to Start Ranger School

Female Soldier

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Army is edging closer to the full inclusion of female soldiers, as six more women have qualified to attend Ranger School.

In January, 2015, the Army announced that it was planning to conduct a pilot program for women at its elite Ranger School, for a cohort beginning on April 20, 2015. The Army said that as many as forty slots would be open for female soldiers who could qualify and were eligible.

To qualify for the school, the Army has required female soldiers complete a two-week Army National Guard Ranger Training and Assessment Course (RTAC) at Fort Benning, Georgia. In March, 119 soldiers (85 males and 34 females) started the RTAC session. By the end of it, only 31 soldiers, 25 males and 6 females, successfully completed the course.

The six women, all of them officers, will be joining six other women who had previously completed RTAC back in January, bringing the total number of women starting Ranger School, this month, to twelve.

But these women have a long way to go to achieve their goal. Ranger school is 61 days long, and is a grueling test of their physical and mental conditioning. Approximately 45% of soldiers admitted to Ranger School successfully complete it, with more than half of the failures occurring within the first four days. Most soldiers are disqualified during the physical fitness test conducted on the very first day, which requires candidates to complete 49 pushups in two minutes, 59 sit-ups in two minutes, six chin-ups, and a five miles run in forty minutes.

“Not every soldier is going to make it through this course,” said Major General Scott Miller, commanding general of Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence. “The standards are demanding, and the standards are not changing. They’re not changing in the pre-Ranger course, and they’re not going to change for the Ranger Course.”

Any female soldier who successfully completes Ranger School will receive a certificate, and will be awarded the elite Ranger tab. However, for now, none of the twelve women will be assigned to the 75th Ranger regiment, the Army’s special operations force.

The Army is using this pilot program as part of an effort to determine how best to include women into combat roles. This group of twelve women will be a first for Ranger School, which, until now, has only been open to men.

These soldiers are history in the making, and we wish them the best of luck at Ranger School.

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Military Connection: Twelve Women to Start Ranger School: By Debbie Gregory