A Few Good Women

Man smilingJon Allison’s Monday Blog
Last week for the first time women graduated from the Army’s Ranger School.  Two women graduated – Captain Kristen Griest, 26, a military police platoon leader, and 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver, 25, an Apache attack helicopter pilot.  19 women entered the training.  94 men made it out of 380 that entered training.

Ranger School was opened to women for the first time this past April as the Army assesses integrating women into more positions in combat units.  It is one of the toughest tests the military has.  It requires performing a number of physically and mentally challenging tasks under difficult conditions with little food and sleep.  It takes a couple of months to complete Ranger School if all tests are passed on the first try.  Many take longer to complete the training.  Of the 96 in Griest’s and Haver’s class, 40 went “straight through” and the rest repeated portions of the course.  Last year 4,057 attempted the course and 1,609 graduated.

There are additional tests that those who made it through Ranger School still have to pass to join the 75th Ranger Regiment.  The 94 men who completed Ranger School can continue on.  The 2 women can’t because the Ranger Regiment remains male-only.  That may soon change.
In January of 2013 then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey signed an order eliminating numerous limits on women’s service in the military and ordering a quarter-million jobs open regardless of gender.  The military was also ordered to engage in a review of requirements for combat jobs and make any arguments in support of keeping certain jobs closed to women by January of 2016.  Standards were not to be reduced.

The Navy and Air Force have few jobs closed to women.  The Army and Marine Corps still have numerous positions that remain closed to women which often involve fighting in small units on the front lines and doing physically grueling tasks.  The military is completing their reviews and will make any arguments to Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the coming months.

It appears that most if not all jobs that remain closed to women may open.  There remain deep divides over the wisdom of this.  Some believe if you can meet the established standards then you should be allowed to have the position.  Others believe despite that, there are still reasons to leave some jobs closed to women.

For more on this topic see :
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Let women serve in elite military units

Kathleen Parker: Military is putting women at unique risk

William Denn: Women in combat roles would strengthen the military

Dan Lamothe: These are the Army’s first female Ranger School graduates