Kristen Griest & Shaye Haver, The First Female Army Rangers, Are 2 Totally Incredible Women

On Friday, Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver graduated as the first female Army Rangers in military history. The two began their training alongside a total of 19 women and 381 men, and the class was whittled down to just Griest and Haver along with 94 men. Ranger School pushes its students to their very limits through a grueling 62-day training program that restricts trainees' food, water, and sleep as they learn to lead "small unit combat operations" in adverse situations. After persevering, the two women were rewarded with Ranger Tabs, the enviable black-and-gold tabs pinned onto those who complete the program. So, who are the first female Army Rangers?

Griest is currently serving in the Army as a military police officer and was previously deployed to Afghanistan. She attended West Point out of high school and has always had an interest in combat. Griest's brother, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mike Griest, who is also serving in the Army, said to the Associated Press, "If she had been allowed to go infantry out of college, she would have done that."

Griest hails from Orange, Texas, where she was known for athletic abilities at Amity Regional High School. One of Griest's former cross-country coaches, Chris Dickerson, praised her in an email to the New Haven Register, calling her one of the toughest competitors the school had ever seen, given her impressive prowess at both the discus and 1,600-meter race, her preferred events:

No one has that sort of athletic range!! I remember her as a respectful person and a very tough runner. I am so happy to see her excel at this level ... It is great to see her setting the bar higher for women in the military.
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Haver's background is equally impressive. She is currently an Apache pilot based out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Like Griest, she took an early interest in the military and was a JROTC leader at Copperas Cove High School. She also attended West Point, though Haver graduated in 2012, and Griest graduated the year prior. Haver's former JROTC instructor, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Enrique Herrera, remembers being incredibly impressed by Haver on first impression:

I knew at that moment [I met her] that three years down the road she was going to become my battalion commander, and of course, she became my battalion commander. I have got nothing but praise for that young lady. She knew in her mind what she wanted to do, and she went out and did it.
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Although Griest and Haver now have Ranger Tabs, they are currently unable to try out for the 75th Ranger Regiment unless rules on its gender segregation are changed. In 1994, the Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule was implemented, preventing women from holding military positions that bring them into combat scenarios. Nearly a decade later, a majority of those requirements were lifted as the Defense Secretary at the time, Leon Panetta, looked to make more positions gender neutral. Panetta requested plans from service branches detailing ways that gender restrictions could be lifted to accommodate more women in diverse fields as well as exemptions preventing women from serving in certain positions.

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Elite forces like the Navy SEALs and the Ranger Regiment remain male-only due to a lack of gender neutral standards. Given just how impressive both Griest and Haver were during their Rangers training, it's hard not to imagine that distinction changing quite soon. Fellow Army Rangers graduate Rudy Mac told Business Insider that Griest and Haver more than pulled their weight in Ranger School:

If I remember correctly, Ranger Griest carried the M240 for her squad on day one of patrols and another female in her squad carried the radio as the RTO. The next day of patrols, they switched, with Ranger Griest humping [marching and carrying gear] the radio, and the other female student carrying the M240. ... Physically, they were studs.

Later this year, the Pentagon is expected to make a decision regarding gender segregation in combat roles.