In April, 381 men and 19 women began Army Ranger School, at Fort Benning, GA, a U.S. Army base near the Georgia-Alabama line. Only ninety-four men and two women completed the three-phase, 62-day, ordeal. The graduation ceremony will be held today at Fort Benning, when all the graduates will be “tabbed.” On Thursday, the two women were publicly identified. Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver are both U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduates.
However, the two women are not currently eligible to apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force. Hmm. I grilled interviewed Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Installations and Logistics, and retired Navy Captain, aka my husband, about this.
Me: So what happens next for these two trailblazers, Captain Griest and 1st Lt. Haver?
Larry: They have to wait until Oct 1 to see which combat units the Army will open up to females. By that date the services must justify why women cannot serve in any particular unit. After October 1, if they open up the Ranger Regiment, they can apply because they’ve already earned their tabs.
Me: What is the difference in the next steps for the male graduates and the two women?
Larry: The men can apply immediately.
Me: What changes do you think the Army, and all the other branches of the military, should make to ensure true gender equality?
Larry: I think acceptance to any unit should be based on skills, rather than gender.
Me: What advice would you give a young woman to prepare for a career in the military? For instance, Haver ran cross-country in high school.
Larry: Physical fitness is important certainly, but these two women also exhibited mental fortitude. In interviews they have talked about not going into this with a chip on their shoulder. Serving your country at this elite level takes mental, moral and physical capacity.
Thanks, sweetie. You’re welcome.
Lane Stone Larry Korb