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If you’re like most of us and dread at least one part of training intensely for a goal race, two women might have us all beat when it comes to being tough as nails. This week, Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver, both graduates of of the U.S Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., made history for being the first women to ever graduate from the United States Army’s Ranger School.
According to the official United States Army homepage, Ranger School is the Army’s premier combat leadership course that teaches students how to lead soldiers in small unit combat operations. Over the course of 62 arduous days, students are pushed to their mental and physical limits in three phases of environments: woodlands, mountainous and coastal swamp. Those who complete these phases of Ranger School earn the right to wear a Ranger Tab.
The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence announced Monday that Griest, Shaye and 94 men from the initial 19 women and 381 men have completed the third and final phase and will graduate the course on Friday, Aug. 21, on Victory Pong in Fort Benning, Ga. They are the first women to earn a Ranger Tab.
CNN reported that while this was the first year the course was open to women, these female almost-graduates will not be able to apply to the 75th Ranger Regiment. The Pentagon is not expected to decide which combat positions will be open to women until later this year.
Army Secretary John M. McHugh says, “We owe Soldiers the opportunity to serve successfully in any position where they are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best Soldiers to meet our nation’s needs.” He continues to say that this course has proven that regardless of gender, any soldier is capable of achieving their full potential, according to Fort Benning Public Affairs.
Following this historic moment, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert also told the Navy Times that, along with the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, he thinks women should be allowed to serve on elite Navy SEAL teams, provided that they are able to complete Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.
“Why shouldn’t anybody who can meet these [standards] be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason,” Greenert explains. “So we’re on a track to say, ‘Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.'”