Army Ranger School Opens Its Doors to Women

Griest and HaverKristen Griest and Shaye Haver were hailed as trailblazers when they became the first women to graduate from the Army’s grueling Ranger School last month. They showed the Army what it was possible for women to achieve—and now we know the Army was paying attention.The Army announced Wednesday that it will permanently open Ranger School to women. Women have only been allowed to enter Ranger School since April, and even then, they had to pass a preliminary training course to get in (something that is only “strongly recommended” for prospective male Rangers). With this latest policy change, that barrier has been removed, and women will be given the same chance as men to prove they have what it takes to join the Rangers’ elite ranks.Remarking on how the Army reached its decision, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk explained: “The bottom line is that it just became obvious. What these women did was nothing short of amazing—they changed a lot of minds.”The U.S. military could be on the brink of an even more historic shift towards gender equality. After it lifted the ban on women in combat in 2013, all forces were given until January 2016 to petition Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for position exemptions; that is, they have to present a compelling argument for why women can’t serve in a particular combat role. Positions that aren’t granted exceptions will have to accept women who prove they can handle the pressure. Right now, military insiders are predicting that only a few positions will receive exemptions.If it plays out that way, it will be welcome news for Griest and Haver, who technically still aren’t permitted to serve in Ranger combat units, and won’t be until official decisions on exemptions are made. But we agree with Lt. Col. Pionk’s philosophy here—these women passed the training, so letting them serve should just be obvious! Thankfully, it looks like Griest and Haver, and other women, won’t have much longer to wait.