Why Female Army Ranger Grads, Griest and Harver Are So Hardcore

For the first time in history, two women, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, have graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School. Averaging a 20-hour training day and asked to function on only 3.5 hours of sleep, I’m blown away by the mental strength, agility, and toughness.

And these ladies didn’t come here to get a participant ribbon, they came to win. According to GoArmy.com, it’s considered “the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer.”

The program is an intense 61-day combat leadership course oriented toward small-unit tactics in various phases and locations to simulate and test real-life combat situations. Here’s what they went through:

Phase 1: Benning

Known as the crawl phase, Benning is “designed to assess a Soldier’s physical stamina, mental toughness, leadership abilities, and establishes the tactical fundamentals required for follow-on phases of Ranger School.” Between 50-60% of students fail to pass this phase. Events in the Benning phase are as follows:

  • Ranger Physical Fitness Test (RPFT)
    1. 49 push-ups in 2 minutes, graded strictly on form
    2. 59 sit-ups in 2 minutes
    3. 6 chin-ups (from a dead lift, no body movement)
    4. 5 mile run in 40 minutes or less
  • Combat Water Survival Assessment
    • Soldiers must traverse a log 35 feet in the air above a pond. Once across the log, they must navigate a rope crawl (also 35 feet high) and jump into the water. Then they must climb a ladder to the top of a 70 foot tower, go down a pulley and back into the pond. Students fail if they show any hesitation, fear of water, heights, or not completing the course correctly.
  • Combination Night/Day Land Navigation Test
    • Students are given a predetermined number of locations and need to navigate to them correctly. Only flashlights with red lens filters can be used to see the maps. Any other use of the flashlight means disqualification.
  • A 3-Mile Terrain Run
  • The Malvesti Field Obstacle Course (which includes the famous worm pit)
  • Demolitions Training And Airborne Refresher Training
  • A 12-Mile Forced, Loaded Foot March
    • In a loaded foot march, one carries a load on one’s back in full gear.  This must be completed in less than 3 hours.
army worm pit photo
Photo by The U.S. Army

Phase 2: Mountain

The mountain phase includes 4 days of mountain training and 4 days of combat training near Dahlonega, Georgia.

According to the U.S. Army, “Patrol missions are conducted both day and night and include Air Assault Operations and extensive cross country movements through mountainous terrain.”

Soldiers have to deal with extreme elements including belaying over rugged mountainous terrain, river crossings and severe weather exposure including heat, frostbite, poison ivy, and more.

Wikipedia | Signaleer

Phase 3: Florida

Phase 3 takes place at Camp Rudder near Valparaiso, Florida. Here, students are trained and asked to execute tactics that simulate boat and air assault missions.

With extreme humidity, swampy conditions, and dangerous wildlife and reptiles like crocodiles and snakes, this phase is taxing on everyone. In this final phase, soldiers also have to make a parachute jump.

army ranger parachute jump photo
Photo by Program Executive Office Soldier P