Griest, 27, requested a transfer to become an infantry officer, and it was accepted Monday, said Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk, an Army spokesman. On Thursday, she will graduate from the Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Benning, Ga., which teaches students how to do tactical planning for infantry companies and battalions and lead as a company commander.
“Like any other officer wishing to branch-transfer, Capt. Griest applied for an exception to Army policy to transfer from military police to infantry,” said Bob Purtiman, a spokesman for the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning. “Her transfer was approved by the Department of the Army, and she’s now an infantry officer.”
Griest, of Orange, Conn., entered the Army as a military police officer after earning her commission in 2011 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. A former high school cross-country runner, she was one of 19 women who attempted Ranger School last year beginning in April as the service opened it to women for the first time while researching how to more fully integrate women in the military.
In August, Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot and fellow West Point graduate, became the first women to graduate Ranger School. They were followed in October by Maj. Lisa Jaster, another West Point graduate, a combat engineer who activated from the Army Reserve to attempt the course.
Griest was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but told reporters before her graduation from Ranger School last summer that she was interested to see what new doors would open for women in the military.
“I think that Special Forces is something that I would definitely be interested in if my timeline permits for that,” Griest said. “Currently, I’m trying to pursue civil affairs, which is under the Special Operations umbrella that is currently open to women. But there are several other options out there, and I’m honestly not very decided about it.”
Privately, however, Griest “talked about wanting to be in the infantry since the first time I met her,” Jaster told The Washington Post on Wednesday after Griest’s new accomplishment was reported.
“I am proud of her for following her dreams and setting the example for future male and female soldiers,” Jaster added.
Griest is one in what could be a series of firsts for women in the military this year. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced in December that that he was removing all bans on women serving in combat units, and he gave the services until this year to determine how they would do so.
Earlier this month, the Army announced that it approved requests from nine female cadets to join the infantry and 13 to join the armor branch, which also was opened to women for the first time this year. After commissioning, the new officers are expected to go through training this summer and could carry out their desired jobs by this fall.
One female officer washed out of the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course last week, and is expected to attempt it again, defense officials said. Thus far, 30 women have attempted that course and none have passed.