By Ray Starmann
On September 15th, Representative Steve Russell (R., OK) a Ranger School graduate and a retired US Army Infantry officer with combat service in Iraq, contacted the outgoing Secretary of the Army John McHugh and requested the Ranger School records for the first two female graduates (Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver) from the elite and grueling 61 day course.
In an official statement released by Russell, he stated, “The records request on the recent Ranger classes that included females is to investigate serious allegations that are being made by members of the military. No one wanted to touch this issue. As one of only two Ranger qualified members of the US House, I asked for the records to determine the nature of the allegations. The investigation should show whether there was any wrong-doing or it will lay it to rest. We expect to examine the records by next week and will make a determination from there.”
At the end of September, Army officials, including Major General Scott Miller, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence met with Russell. Miller and other senior Army officials have denied that any standards were dropped to accommodate the females attending Ranger School.
Russell’s office only commented on this meeting by stating that the Army “Asked for additional time to accommodate the document request.” “Our office is negotiating with them on how much time they will need.”
One wonders why the Army needed additional time to locate and deliver the records.
Russell’s request was stimulated by several anonymous sources from the Airborne and Ranger School training brigade who indicated that special treatment had been given to the two female graduates.
Women were first sent to a special two-week training in January to get them ready for the school, which didn’t start until April 20. Once there they were allowed to repeat the program until they passed – while men were held to a strict pass/fail standard.
Afterward they spent months in a special platoon at Fort Benning getting, among other things, nutritional counseling and full-time training with a Ranger.
While in the special platoon they were taken out to the land navigation course – a very tough part of the course that is timed – on a regular basis. The men had to see it for the first time when they went to the school.• Once in the school they were allowed to repeat key parts – like patrols – while special consideration was not given to the men.
A two-star general made personal appearances to cheer them along during one of the most challenging parts of the school.
According to People:
Though the course didn’t begin until April 20, the first female Ranger candidates arrived at Fort Benning in January to attend the National Guard’s rigorous Ranger Training and Assessment Course (RTAC), a two-week program designed to assess whether a student could attempt Ranger School.
Previously, only the National Guard’s Ranger hopefuls were required to attend RTAC, while non-Guard candidates had the elective option to attend. Now, all females – no matter whether they were Guard, Reserve or Regular Army – were required to attend.
There they were given another edge, sources say: While men were held to a stark pass-fail standard, women were allowed to redo the special training repeatedly.
“That was the first special concession,” says an Army source with knowledge of what transpired. “Males do not recycle RTAC. They either cut it or not.”
Then came the second round of special treatment.
The males proceeded to Ranger School without further ado. The women got special training. They were placed into their own platoon and spent the next several weeks preparing for Ranger School, sources say.
They were given nutritional counseling and a soldier to train them full time. The soldier, Sergeant First Class Robert Hoffnagle, previously had competed in Fort Benning’s annual Best Ranger competition, touted as the “ultimate test of fitness, endurance and grit for the Army’s most elite soldiers.”
The women “lived and breathed nothing but Ranger School 24/7. “He taught [them] everything, including how to do patrols.”
There they were also allowed to train and rehearse on Land Navigation.
“That right there was a special consideration that only was given to the women,” says a source with knowledge of events. “It’s not fair, on a lot of levels.”
In a response to questions that included a request for confirmation that the women were placed in the special platoon, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Ben Garrett said “the allegations are not true.”
However, other sources confirmed its existence to People.
“Hoffnagle got us ready for Ranger School,” says a woman who attended the special platoon.
And other sources at Fort Benning said they were present at meetings to discuss the platoon’s budget and how it would operate.
Several sources at Fort Benning said that the fix had been in for months, and that a general had stated that a female will graduate from Ranger School.
“A woman will graduate Ranger School,” a general told shocked subordinates this year while preparing for the first females to attend a “gender integrated assessment” of the grueling combat leadership course. At least one will get through.”
AS OF TODAY, RUSSELL’S OFFICE HAS NOT RECEIVED ANY OF THE DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED FROM THE ARMY CONCERNING THE RANGER SCHOOL RECORDS OF THE TWO FEMALE GRADUATES.
It is hoped that answers from the Army will be forthcoming and if questions remain about the conduct of Major-General Miller, Colonel Highcoats, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade and Command Sergeant Major Curtis Arnold, that they testify under oath in front of a Congressional committee.
The Army has repeatedly stated that no standards were amended to allow the females to graduate. We can only hope that the Army is being honest with the female graduates, itself and the nation they have sworn to defend.