Not long after the first women graduated U.S. Army Ranger School in August 2015, other major changes followed.
The school was opened to qualified women who met the rigid physical requirements, Not long after that the combat-arms branches — Armor and Infantry — were opened to women for the first time.
In a six-part series, WRBL News 3 is looking back at that historic Ranger School graduation. But it was more than just one school and one class. It has impacted women and their roles in the Army.
Ask Army Reserve Maj. Lisa Jaster to describe her friends — Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver — and she doesn’t hesitate.
“Confident, athletic, intelligent, beautiful,” Jaster said. “They are full packages and they are humble. Above all else, they are extremely humble. And they are almost impossible to dislike.”
They are also pioneers.
Capt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver were pioneers five years ago. Today, both women are still — as the Rangers say — leading the way in the gender integration of the Army.
Griest, an MP, and Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, opened a door to the Armor and Infantry branches for qualified women by meeting the Army’s toughest standards and graduating from Ranger School in August 2015.
They were the first to walk through that door they opened.
“Because of combat arms getting opened up following Kristen and I graduating from Ranger School, the opportunity presented itself to voluntarily transfer into the infantry,” Haver said. “Going to the Maneuver Captains Career Course down at Fort Benning helped me make that decision. I enjoyed what I was doing there.”
It was what Griest had been pushing for, respectfully and calmly challenging the exclusion since her West Point days.
“I have always tried to raise those issues up to a higher echelon,” Griest said. “To let them know what it looks like from my perspective.”
Since Ranger School, both women ended up in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. Both have rotated through Afghanistan.
They were at the forefront of gender integration of the Infantry.
“(I had a) female lieutenant who became my executive officer,” Griest said. “I had 10 female privates come into the company while I was there. It was exciting to see how they performed and how all of the men accepted them and integrated them into the platoons. And treated them like equal soldiers. Encouraging to see.”
They were under a spotlight because they were first, says Gen. Scott Miller, who commanded Fort Benning in 2015. He is now the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces — Afghanistan. Miller and others offered advice both women have followed.
“Don’t take advantage of this,” Miller said of the advice. “Be professional. Recognize that not only do you represent your nation as a soldier. Because you are the first, you have an additional burden on you. And I think they both handled it very well.”
Both have marched similar paths since leaving Ranger School.
Haver’s career path:
— 2015-2016 Fort Carson, CO to complete my platoon leader time as an Apache pilot.
— 2016 Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Benning, GA and voluntary transfer into the Infantry branch.
— 2016-2020. Following the career course, assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team at the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. Served as a Brigade Plans officer, battalion assistant operations officer, rifle company commander, and a headquarters and headquarters company commander. As the headquarters company commander, deployed with 1-508th parachute infantry regiment as the theatre response force 2019-2020 in Afghanistan.
— July 2020. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, at Fort Myer. Assumed command of a Memorial Affairs Company- Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd infantry Regiment. Primary mission is the daily honor of laying our Nation’s heroes to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
Griest’s career path:
— 2014-2015: Served as an operations officer in the 716th MP Battalion at Fort Campbell, KY
— 2016: Completed the Maneuver Captains Career Course and conducted a Voluntary Transfer to the Infantry Branch. Then assigned to 4th Ranger Training Battalion to be a Ranger Instructor in the Darby Phase of Ranger School at Fort Benning.
— 2017: Operations officer in 2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (3BCT, 82nd Airborne Division). Took Company Command of Bravo Company in 2-505th PIR and served as part of the Global Response Force.
— Sept. 2018: Assigned as a Team Leader in the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C., and deployed to Afghanistan in 2019 as an Advisor to the Afghan National Army.
July 2020: Assigned to the Army Talent Management Task Force in Arlington, Va.
Note: Series video editor Karien Graf