Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest made history when they became the first women to graduate from the Army’s elite Ranger School. However, some are questioning if the women truly earned the distinguished honor. Reports claim that the women received “special treatment” unlike their male counterparts. Allegations include extra training and lowered benchmarks for female Ranger candidates as Army officials vowed “at least one of them will pass” even before classes began.
The Daily Mail reports that some are questioning if female Rangers Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest were held to the same standards as male Rangers during Ranger School training. Reports indicate that claims of extra training support, lowered benchmarks and special treatment were given to the female candidates that male candidates did not receive.
One particularly distinguishing treatment that the women allegedly received was a Ranger School preparation course. It was claimed that the women were sent to a special camp to prepare for the courses. The program was allegedly ran by Sergeant First Class Robert Hoffnagle, a top Ranger School graduate, at Fort Benning. According to the allegations, the women received nutritional advice, special training and tips on how to prepare for each course they would need to complete once at official Ranger School. However, it was noted that male Ranger candidates were not given the same opportunity to attend the preparation course as the women.
Additionally, as People Magazine reports, the women were also not placed on the strict pass-no pass standard as the male candidates. Instead, the women were allegedly allowed to take the course as many times as necessary until they passed. Meanwhile, the male candidates who did not pass on the first try were sent home.
The bombshell report claims that even prior to the women arriving for Ranger School, an unnamed General said “at least one of them [the female candidates] will pass.” In fact, the source claims that just three weeks into official Ranger School, all of the women had either dropped out or were about to be sent home. However, the unnamed Ranger instructor says that there was “huge pressure to comply” with ensuring a female graduated the program.
The Army denies the claims that women were given special treatment in Ranger School and stand by their assertion that the women fully earned the honor. Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ben Garrett says the allegations “are not true.”
Despite the Army standing by the procedure, one potential female Ranger candidate says the pre-training did happen at Fort Benning where the women formed their own platoon to prepare for Ranger school. She said that “Hoffnagle got us ready for Ranger School” seemingly admitting to the special treatment. Additionally, Ranger Kristen Griest seemed to corroborate that she and Haver received a “Day One Recycle” on an important part of the test after failing it twice.
“I thought we were going to be dropped after we failed Darby [part of Benning] the second time. We were offered a Day One Recycle.”
However, Army spokesman LTC Jennifer Johnson says that the standards have not been changed.
“In order to successfully graduate Ranger School, all students, male and female, are required to meet all course standards.”
Though the two female candidates passed Ranger School and can officially wear the Ranger badge on their uniform, they are currently barred from performing Ranger duties as females are currently not allowed in combat positions. However, if policies are not changed, on January 1, 2016, female Rangers will be able to apply for combat positions. This, according to Jim Lechner, a retired Army officer and Ranger who was wounded in combat in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the famed “Black Hawk Down” incident, is why ensuring fair standards is vital.
“Combat is brutal and unforgiving. Fighters must be prepared and capable. If they are not, people will die.”
If the female candidates were given special training not offered to their male counterparts, was the process unfair? What should be done in the future to ensure both male and female Ranger School candidates are meeting the same standards?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Jessica McGowan]