Griest, a military police officer, and Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, made history on 21st August 2015 by graduating from the Ranger School having completed an intensive 62-day course which included parachute jumps, helicopter assaults, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes and a 12-mile foot march in 3 hours. They were also trained in specialist skills such as small unit leadership and swamp survival.
This was the first time female soldiers were allowed to take part in the US Army's toughest training as part of an ongoing effort to open up combat roles for women. The commander of the school, Major General Scott Miller, hit back against accusations on the internet that standards were lowered for the female soldiers, pointing out that the physical tests were exactly the same for all candidates and that "The 5-mile run is still 5 miles, the times do not adjust."
Both women described how they received some skepticism from their male colleagues but this quickly evaporated as they proved themselves in the physical challenges, including their completion of a 3-day mountain march carrying 50 pounds of gear, which many of the male candidates failed to complete. Moving forward Griest has expressed an interest in joining a special forces unit, although such roles are currently unavailable to women in the US Army. Haver stated that she will be returning to her role as a helicopter pilot.
Kinessa Johnson is a US army veteran who currently works as an anti-poaching advisor in East Africa.
Johnson served in the US army in Afghanistan for 4 years as a weapons instructor and mechanic. She retired from the army and in November 2014 joined VETPAW, a non-profit organisation which trains conservation rangers in protecting wildlife from poachers.
Johnson has described her role as purely instructional and that the goal of her work is not to harm anyone but to assist rangers in being able to prevent poaching. She trains rangers in marksmanship, field medicine, and counter-intelligence. She currently works in Tanzania near Arusha, where 187 rangers were killed in 2014 trying to protect rhinos and elephants.
In addition to her training work, Johnson works to educate local populations on the importance of preserving endangered species and natural resources. She has a large social media presence on Facebook and Instagram which she uses to promote animal rights awareness.
Palestinian girl with rifle in Gaza.
Edit: This post previously contained a statement to the effect that tens of thousands of child soldiers were active in the Gaza strip. I was recently asked to check my sources for this and on closer re-examination I have been unable to verify this statement to my satisfaction. Therefore I’ve decided the sentence was misleading and should be removed.
Alyssa Michalke will become the first female commander of the Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets this spring, taking command of 2400 cadets. A junior with a dual major in ocean and civil engineering, Michalke currently serves as the Corps’ sergeant major.
A superior officer described Michalke saying, “She’s a leader, she’s a rolemodel, she’s a mentor, she’s the kind of person who can get things done.”
Read the full news story here.
Monica Lin Brown is a United States Army medic who became the second woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star, the United States’ third-highest medal for valour.
Brown was awarded the medal for her actions in Afghanistan in April 2007 where her convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. Brown braved heavy gunfire to drag soldiers to safety from a burning Humvee and used her body to shield the wounded while mortar rounds fell nearby. Her sergeant who was providing covering fire said that he saw enemy bullets “literally missing her by inches”.
Five US soldiers owe their lives to her actions.