the first ever female rangers

19 Aug

Dear world,

I can very honestly say I don’t know exactly how to put into words all of the emotions I have surrounding the impending graduation of the first two female graduates of the Army Ranger School OF ALL TIME (oh and by the way, they both graduated from my alma mater!). So, I will start in list form and see how it takes us:

  1. I am over the moon proud of these women. While attending West Point, I have seen some incredibly strong, persistent, and brave women join the teams and ranks of clubs and teams generally noted as “male only” teams and hang with them all the same. I’ve always held the belief that there are some women out there (not me, by any means) that can keep up with the guys physically, and that women should be allowed into all Army schools – so long as the standard isn’t lowered or changed. Sure, we have different muscle percentages and body build, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work twice as hard to be able to run the same pace or carry the same ruck sack. I take pride in my muscles and body, and can say for a fact that I can out run/lift/ruck about 65% of my company at this very moment in time. And I know these women took it to the next level, and made history. I am SO PROUD of them and I know that they maintained the same Ranger standard that has existed since its founding. The only difference is the school finally officially allowed women to attend. Good work, Army! But better work to these two incredible women.
  2. So, after seeing the news on Twitter on Tuesday morning, I headed out to formation to see my Soldiers for the first time since the weekend and I was even more excited to share the great news – especially to my female Soldiers. I currently have four female Soldiers under my command, which is four more than my last unit – so I was extra excited to talk about all of the opportunities they will grow up into the Army having and get to fill their minds with rainbows and butterflies of happiness for the equality we were finally being extended. Imagine the disappointment and rage I felt when one of my senior leaders began to espouse his beliefs that “they must have changed the standards” “women shouldn’t be allowed to be Rangers” “it’s all a scam” and a bunch of other things that set me off my rocker. Excuse me? Have you been to Ranger school? If no, you have no right to even have an opinion. And it makes me sad that many of the men (and women!!) I have heard talk down on this huge accomplishment have daughters and sons. I will always praise my father for constantly telling me that I can be/do whatever I want when I grow up. He always told me growing up as a gymnast and athlete “you could beat my Soldiers on an APFT!” and when I told him recently that I ran a 5 mile route with a pace under 8:00 the whole 5 miles, he said “that’s the Ranger standard! You could get into that school!” even before these two amazing women made the cut. My dad is an old-army retired green beret Colonel and a Ranger to boot. Maybe my dad believes women should be allowed to become Rangers because he’s seen the rigors I’ve put myself through, or maybe because my dad believes in the future/isn’t a misogynistic jerk. The Army can figure out how to integrate these Rangers and women into combat roles later, for now can we just honor and cheer on all of these current Ranger class graduates? Including the first two females ever?
  3. And then this morning it was even worse than yesterday because I had to sit in the shower room of my building and listen to a field grade officer (who is also a female) explain how women shouldn’t be allowed to serve in all of the positions men do. I’ll let you know she preceded this line of argument with telling me her husband is a “good ole southern boy” (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?!?! DOES THAT EXCUSE HIM OF BEING SEXIST? IS HE POISONING YOUR MIND WITH OUT OF CONTEXT BIBLE VERSES AND CONFEDERATE FLAGS???) and he thinks that our country isn’t in such a sorry state where we should send our women to war. I quickly explained (awkwardly because I was trying to take a shower while she was standing outside of the shower) that if a woman wants to serve in a combat war and is able to meet the already prescribed standard, she should be allowed, and cited other countries where women serve in combat roles. She countered with it being unfair that men are the only ones who are called on in the draft and serve in combat roles when women are able to serve in support roles. I countered with there isn’t anyone in the Army right now who was called to fight through the draft. Then she went on to the archaic argument that “women’s bodies aren’t the same as men’s, you can’t argue with that.” I just told her she was right, our bodies were different but if someone wanted to work extra hard to fulfill their dream of being a Ranger, there shouldn’t be road blocks. She went on to say some other disappointing things, and I had to sit there and just realize I had lost a mentor and someone who I looked up to, and who I couldn’t argue back with since she outranks me. What a shame that not even all women are supporting this huge accomplishment.
  4. This afternoon I finally read an article one of my classmates sent me last night which was written by a West Point graduate/Infantry officer/Ranger school graduate/Ranger school instructor: http://rhinoden.rangerup.com/time-to-welcome-a-new-era-of-rangers-army/ . It gave me so much hope and happiness to hear that not all opinions of these women/the incredible struggle they went through are not all awful and full of backwards/old school/sexist remarks. And then the identities of these two superstars were finally released (although we’d been speculating/guessing all of these months): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/08/18/these-are-the-armys-first-female-ranger-school-graduates/ . I was glowing with happiness in pride, recognizing both of these beautiful and resilient faces. Kristen was in my Company (a year ahead of me) my plebe and yuk years at West Point, she helped me prepare for parades when my team leader was off competing in lacrosse competitions, and was always an amazing role model for me in my formative plebe days. We would cheer her on during the Sandhurst competition, when we knew our company, the Crusaders, would win Sandhurst overall because Kristen was our female team member – and the normally considered “weak link” was stronger than the strong links of the other teams. And we won Sandhurst in 2010! Shaye is one of my classmates, and although we were never close, I would watch as she would beast through all sorts of athletic and military endeavors. Tough as nails. I can say without a doubt, that their graduating Ranger school was just a matter of time. They are tougher than probably 95% of the men I know.
  5. I sent these articles to my Company Commander, who is also a grad/ranger/green beret, to see his opinion. He just recently married a feminist, so we have thought provoking conversations often, and he knows my opinion on this sort of thing. He told me to be glad I’m not on Facebook right now because it hasn’t been so crazy since South Carolina pulled down their Confederate flag. And I am so glad I don’t have to willingly see all of the hate and sexism that this issue is bringing to light. I don’t like having to lose faith in humanity and I very much don’t like hearing that all of the men (and women!!!) who surround me are secretly harboring vile stands and ideas on concepts, such as equality, that I hold so close to me – because it makes me want to leave the Army even more. But, I will continue to try to positively impact those around me until my ETS date.

In conclusion, I am over the moon proud that these women are now part of history and opening up the military, and in time, the whole wide world to men and women. I just simply wish that people would allow these women to celebrate their accomplishments, and I hope so much that the rest of their Army careers they won’t be surrounded by people who rub dirt in their ranger tabs, because those women (and all of those men who survived the school with them) earned it fair and square

I’m proud to be part of a generation who is continuing the fight and push towards an equal world. So proud of you two, Kristen and Shaye. I hope I can hug both of you soon!

Xoxo,
Annie

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3 Responses to “the first ever female rangers”

  1. Kimberly Cale August 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    I will join you in celebration! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 So happy, so proud, and so very excited!

  2. RL Bradford August 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Be encouraged! I am an old grad from the mid 80s and all of the FB comments from my classmates, have been overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, what I’ve read from other grads (both male and female) 1980-2015, have been very supportive. Also, that article on Welcoming New Era of Rangers have been shared by quite a few male Old Grads. Be proud of your sisters and Go Army!!

    • Anastasia Kristina August 19, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      RL, thanks so much for the kind words :) I really appreciate it!! i am so proud!

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