[Oklahoma City, OK, September 25, 2015] – Recently, Oklahoma’s own Congressman Steve Russell (R-5), sent a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh – the Pentagon’s top Army leader – demanding documentation regarding the conditions under which new trainees in the Army’s Ranger School were evaluated and their performance ratings – but only for the women.
Just over a month ago, two women, First Lieutenants Kristen Griest and Sayne Haver, graduated from the Ranger School. These two women made history as they were among the first women accepted to the school and the first two to complete the program.
As the military begins to move towards opening all positions to women, there has been much apprehension and scrutiny about this transition; however, Congressman Russell’s demands, despite multiple reports from top Army officials asserting that no changes or accommodations were made for the female trainees that are not also given to male trainees, seem outright misogynistic and demeaning. Out of 400 students that started the school there was a 67-percent drop/fail rate and among the 20 female students it was an 85-percent drop/fail rate as of August 15th. By those numbers alone, we can see that these women have given their all and pushed through to complete their training; a fact that should never be in question.
“Insinuations from Congressman Russell that these women can’t pull their own and support their fellow troops simply because they are women are unconscionable in 2015. Time and time again we see that women, when put in the same conditions as their male counterparts, are just as capable of performing the duties assigned to them. Characteristics which we demand from specialized military programs, like the Army Rangers, must be built, taught, and conditioned no matter who you are. Brute strength can be built; emotional discipline under stress must be conditioned for all of us; combat tactics, skills, and specializations are taught. There is no reason to think that these women would not be able to perform and be judged by the same conditions as all other trainees,” stated Mark Hammons, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
“We await the results of the inquiry – as does the rest of the country – and our hope is that not only will these women and the Army be cleared of these accusations, but that from here forward statements and demands such as Congressman Russell’s will cease and our U.S. military will continue to expand and grow through inclusion.”