Following the historic graduation of Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, from the U.S. Army's Ranger School on August 21, the Army announced Wednesday that it will open the elite program to all women on a full-time basis, according to the Washington Post.
Ranger School became open to women for the first time in April, with 20 women qualifying for the course and 19 choosing to go through with it. Griest and Shaye were the only two women to graduate. (A third woman has advanced to the final phase, and could graduate as soon as September 18.) At that point, women were required to pass a grueling, 17-day preliminary Ranger Training and Assessment Course (RTAC) to determine if they could then complete the official 61-day Ranger School. Now, although it will be encouraged for both male and female members to take the preliminary course as preparation, it will not be required for women.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army's top officer, said in a statement that combat readiness is still a top priority for the service.
"Giving every qualified soldier the opportunity to attend the Ranger Course, the Army's premier small unit leadership school, ensures we are maintaining our combat readiness today, tomorrow and for future generations," he said.
The graduation of Griest and Shaye has put a magnifying glass on the military as it decides whether or not to open up certain elite roles to women. In 2013, the Pentagon opened up all roles in the military to women, but the military has until this fall to decide if certain jobs — such as those on Special Forces units — will remain closed.
While we wait, it's worth noting that according to Yahoo, women made up about 12 percent of U.S. forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they comprised nearly 2 percent of U.S. military deaths in those wars.
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