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Army wrong to block female Rangers

U.S. Army Soldier 1st Lt. Shaye Haver takes

U.S. Army Soldier 1st Lt. Shaye Haver takes part in mountaineering training at the U.S. Army Ranger School on Mount Yonah July 14, 2015 in Cleveland, Georgia. U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School. Photo Credit: Getty Images / U.S. Army

The U.S. Army marks a significant milestone Friday: Two women will graduate from its vaunted Ranger school, the grueling 62-day course required for any soldier seeking to join the elite Ranger Regiment. Congrats to them.

But under Army rules, Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas -- the first women to complete Ranger training, in the first year women were allowed into the program -- cannot apply to actually join the special operations unit. That's wrong. The women underwent the same training as their male colleagues and graduated under the same standards. They should have the same opportunities going forward, too.

That might be changing. With the Pentagon about to lift its ban on women in combat, its service branches must decide by Jan. 1 whether they want to still keep women out of some jobs -- and say why. There is little rationale for continuing the Army's ban. The Navy is ready to let women serve on its elite SEAL teams if they qualify. Women have served as Humvee top-gunners and helicopter door-gunners in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on female engagement teams with the Marines.

Completing Ranger training is a badge of honor. Many who try are weeded out by the tough physical fitness components, obstacle courses, military mountaineering, parachute jumps and mock combat patrols, with minimal food and sleep. The 94 men and two women graduating Friday came from an initial group of 381 men and 19 women.

The Army proudly defends our country. Now it must embrace one of our guiding principles. If you qualify for a job, you must be allowed to do it, regardless of your gender.


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