After completing a grueling nine weeks of Army Ranger School, two women will now be able to wear the coveted Ranger tab.
While Cpt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver are the only women to graduate the course, they will also be the only two Ranger school graduates unable to try out for the Ranger regiment or serve as infantry or tank officers in the Army, which seems unfair considering they succeeded at the same training and tests as their male counterparts.
The Pentagon decided two years ago that most combat roles should be open to women by 2016. This year, 19 women, including Griest and Haver, attempted the Army Ranger course as an experiment. The course had the soldiers navigate mountains, carry “wounded” soldiers on their backs, swim in the swamps of Florida, jump out of aircrafts and march miles upon miles with little food or sleep. Whether to allow women to fight on the front lines has been an ongoing question that this trial run sought to answer.
However, the debate on co-ed infantry units and front line forces has never truly been whether women can compete on the same level as men, but whether others can handle having a woman fight next to them. Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post says women have died alongside Ranger units for years and yet 250,000 jobs are still barred from women for no legitimate reason.
While many argue that allowing women on the front lines will lower the standards currently held, or crush the morale of those currently serving, neither of those points are true. At least 16 industrialized nations allow women in combat roles, with the overwhelming opinion being there were no problems with operational performance related to the integration of genders.
Those who want women to serve alongside men do not want to lower physical standards in the slightest — they want the opposite. Historically trained to meet lower physical standards, such as flexed arm hang versus pull-ups, women have a higher failure rate on the initial physical fitness test, which benefits no one. The same high physical standards should and can be required from men and women, as shown by Griest and Haver.
Hopefully this experiment lends enough weight to the co-ed argument and convinces those who don’t believe men and women can fight together that they have the same right to fight and die for their country.
Griest’s and Haver’s success reinforced the fact that women can uphold the high physical requirements set by the military. These days war is more about intelligence, strategy, and tactics than brute strength — all of which women are more than capable of displaying.
Alissa Smith is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.