First Female Army Rangers Speak Ahead of Graduation

Every Army Ranger class that goes through Ft. Benning is special.

But this one is different. Because of the more than 100 new Rangers, two are women.

For the first time in Army history, women were given the same opportunity as men, and they succeeded.

"Equal standards across the board. Equal challenges, and ultimately we ended up here together," First Lt. Shaye Haver said Thursday during a news conference.

"I was thinking, really of future generations of women that I would like them to have that opportunity, so I put that pressure on myself," First Lt. Kristen Griest said.

Both Haver, 25, and Griest, 26, are graduates of West Point. And their backgrounds weren't too different from the men they trained with.

"The reasons why I chose to come are the same reasons as the men here," First Lt. Haver said. "To get the experience of the elite leadership school that the army has to provide. To give me the opportunity to lead my soldiers the best I can."

The Ranger School program is notoriously grueling. It's set up in three stages over 62 days, and includes both food and sleep deprivation.

"The mental side of the issues as you come, is going to be the most challenging thing you will ever face," First Lt. Haver said.

But they faced the challenges head on. And they were successful.

"We can handle things physically and mentally, on the same level as men. And that we can deal with the same stresses in training that the men can," First Lt. Griest said.

The men took notice. Some of the graduating class also spoke at the news conference and said they were skeptical the women could pass. That didn't last. At least two soldiers said they would not have passed Ranger School without the help these women gave them.

"We talk about excellence here at Fort Benning, they did it with a lot of excellence and pretty close to perfection," Maj. Gen. Austin Miller said.

But the future is not such a level playing field. Right now, at least, even these women can not have roles in the infantry. They are also barred from joining the elite, Rangers Regiment, which does combat special operations. The Army will review those policies next year.

"I'm definitely interested to see what new doors open up for women," First Lt. Griest said. "I think special forces are something I'd definitely be interested in."