In August 2015, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first women ever to successfully complete U.S. Army Ranger School, considered “one of the toughest training courses for which a soldier can volunteer,” and subsequently became the first women to earn the prestigious Ranger tab. Today,Griest is making history once again by becoming the Army’s first female infantry officer.
The trailblazer is expected to graduate from the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course today “wearing the distinctive blue infantry cord,” which officials confirmed to Army Times. “The infantry officer is responsible for leading the infantry and combined armed forces during land combat,” according to the U.S. Army site.
While more women are expected to follow in her footsteps, it looks like Capt. Griest may be the only female infantry officer for some time. Though the Army recently approved the requests from 22 women from Officer Candidate School (OCS), Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the United States Military Academy (USMA) to enter as 2nd Lieutenants into the Infantry (9 women) and Armor branches (13 women), they all still have to go through commissioning, the first step in the process to become a qualified Army officer. That’s then followed by months-long brand-specific-training, which must be successfully completed before officers can report to their first units of assignment “qualified to assume duties as platoon leaders in Armor or Infantry units.”
Army Times reports, “These moves are part of a multifaceted Army campaign to open all branches and specialties to women, as ordered by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December.” Other initiatives include opening an eight-week application window for female lieutenants who want to branch-transfer into infantry and armor, as well as “combat arms reclassification opportunities for enlisted women, and the opening of officer, warrant officer and enlisted assignment opportunities with the 75th Ranger Regiment, a unit previously closed to women.”