First Female Enlisted Soldier Earns Army Ranger Tab

Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley's family member pins on her Ranger tab during a graduation ceremony for Ranger Class 08-18 at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 31, 2018. (U.S. Army/Patrick A. Albright)
Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley's family member pins on her Ranger tab during a graduation ceremony for Ranger Class 08-18 at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 31, 2018. (U.S. Army/Patrick A. Albright)

A U.S. Army staff sergeant is the first female enlisted soldier to graduate from Ranger School, joining a small group of women to earn the coveted Ranger Tab.

Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley of the 1st Armored Division became the 13th woman to successfully complete the grueling 62-day small-unit leadership course. The graduation ceremony was held Friday at Fort Benning, Georgia, Megan Reed, a spokeswoman for Training and Doctrine Command told Military.com.

Kelley is a 29-year-old electronic warfare technician with the 1st A.D.’s Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to Lt. Col. Crystal Boring, a spokeswoman with the 1st A.D.

Newsweek first reported on this story.

Benning released few details on Kelley’s graduation from the course; officials did not say whether it was her first attempt or when she entered the pipeline.

“Ranger Class 08-18 began the last week of July 2018 with 347 students and graduated today with 127 students,” Ben Garrett, spokesman for Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, said in an email.

It’s been just over three years since the Army opened the traditionally all-male course to women in April 2015. Out of the 19 women who originally volunteered for that first coed Ranger class, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first women to earn the distinctive gold and black shoulder tab that August.

Some have accused the Army of lowering the standards to make it easier on women, but senior leaders and Ranger instructors have disagreed, maintaining that the standards have remained the same.

Ranger School was originally created in 1952 and has become the Army's premier infantry leadership course; an ordeal that pushes students to their physical and mental limits.

Only about 40 percent of male students successfully complete the course on average, Army officials say. And only about 25 percent of Ranger School students graduate without having to repeat at least one of the course’s three phases.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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