In 1997 Ridley Scott directed a lukewarm action/drama predicting the integration of woman into combat positions within the US military. The movie was G.I. Jane and you can be forgiven for not remembering it. Although the movie was largely a drama, it did highlight some of the political issues in the military at the time and tackled the issue of female integration into combat teams.
Jump forward 19 years. Last month Kristen Marie Griest, one of only two woman ever to finish Army Ranger training, submitted a transfer from her post in military police to an active combat position. Shockingly this transfer was approved and for the first time in US history a woman will now be an officer (captain to be exact) in infantry duty. This means that not only will she participate in combat, she’ll be leading men as their superior officer.
I hesitate to call her the Jackie Robinson of woman in the military but it is worth noting that after her transfer was approved 22 female cadets have applied and been accepted to officer positions in the infantry and armor divisions. The army has even opened up an eight week window for female lieutenants to transfer into combat divisions. Of course countries like Israel and Canada have had women in these positions for years and they’ve proven it can work just fine.
Colonel Pionk, who evaluated her transfer had this to say about it: “This isn’t really about putting women into infantry and armor branches. We are at a time and a place in the world where we need to have the best leaders from everywhere, and that includes women.” He went on to say that Griest was evaluated under the same standards as all other applicants. Although putting women in combat positions can be a divisive issue I think we can all agree that Ranger training is unbelievably intense and anyone who can make it through deserves our respect.