Ranger School: The Apache pilot and MP who shattered Army's ultimate glass ceiling

The two women will receive their Ranger tabs in a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., on Friday.

Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP
A female Army Ranger crosses the Yellow River on a rope bridge during Ranger School at Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, in Fla. Aug. 4, 2015. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, she and one other female were the first to complete Ranger training and earn their Ranger tab this week.

Two women ensured that their names will forever be etched in the annals of American military history this week when they became the first female soldiers ever to earn the Army’s coveted Ranger tab.

Now, the Army is revealing those names to America: Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver.

They are both graduates of the US Military Academy at West Point, in 2011 and 2012 respectively. 

Captain Griest, who hails from Connecticut, is an Airborne-qualified military police officer (MP). Lieutenant Haver, a Texas resident, is an Apache helicopter pilot. Last year, her military police battalion’s Facebook page commended Griest for being the champion of the unit’s quarterly 12-mile foot march competition.

They will receive their Ranger tabs in a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., on Friday.

Another female West Point graduate, a major, is still in the mountaineering phase of Ranger School.

While their name tags, like those of their fellow soldiers, were clearly visible during Ranger School training, Army officials had requested that their names be withheld by visiting media outlets to maintain their anonymity while the course was ongoing.

Army officials said that they wanted them to be able to focus on what is widely considered to be one of the US military’s most challenging courses without the distraction that could come with having their names publicized.

The decision to open Ranger School to women was controversial in some circles, and officials added that they wished, at least for the duration of the course, to spare them – and their families – the withering online commentary by those opposed to their presence in the school. 

Within the Ranger School itself, the women were widely praised by instructors for their physical and mental fortitude. They consistently received high evaluations from their peers as well, a crucial part of passing Ranger School. 

Of the 400 Ranger School students who started the course back in April, 20 of them were women. One woman had to drop out before school began.

Eight of the women were still in the running after the first week, known as the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week, which requires, among other things, that students be able to complete 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups, and a five mile run in 40 minutes or less. 

By comparison, 197 of the 381 men were dropped during RAP week. 

Together, the three women repeated the first phase of Ranger School, woodlands training, three times before moving on to the mountaineering phase. Griest and Haver finished school early this week in the Florida swamps for jungle training. 

The course runs for a total of 62 days, but the majority of those who have ultimately made it through Ranger School have failed at least one phase of the program and been forced to repeat it. On average, 45 percent of students who start Ranger School fail to graduate. 

Only one third of Ranger School students make it straight through the first time.

Once they do, their Ranger tabs garner considerable respect within the US military: only 3 percent of Army service members have earned the right to wear one.

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