Maj. Lisa Jaster on Friday became the third woman – and first female Army Reserve officer – to earn the coveted black and gold Ranger tab.
A total of 88 soldiers graduated from Ranger School during a ceremony Friday at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Jaster, a 37-year-old engineer, joins Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver as the only women in the Army to have graduated from Ranger School. They are the only ones from a group of 19 female soldiers who started Ranger School in April as part of the Army's gender-integrated assessment to successfully complete the punishing course.
Maj. Lisa Jaster, 37, an Army Reserve engineer officer, hugs fellow West Point graduates and active duty officers Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25. The three women are the first female soldiers to earn the Ranger tab
Photo Credit: Office of the Secretary of Defense
Griest and Haver, who attended Jaster's graduation ceremony, graduated on Aug. 21.
All three women are West Point graduates.
The Army's gender-integrated assessment of its storied Ranger School has drawn a high level of scrutiny, with many questioning whether the Army is lowering its standards for the elite school, while many others have cheered on the female students.
Critics of the Army's decision to open Ranger School to women – a school that until this year had only been open to men – have repeatedly bashed the effort online and in social media. Many have said the Army was relaxing its standards for the school or giving the female candidates an advantage by allowing them multiple attempts at the school's three phases.
Army officials have long insisted that the standards have not been changed in any way.
The Army in September announced that Ranger School is now open to all qualified soldiers, regardless of gender.
Jaster is an engineer for Shell Oil Co. in her civilian life and an Army Reserve individual mobilization augmentee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, Alabama, according to information from the Reserve.
A cross-training enthusiast who practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Jaster enlisted the help of her husband and two children as she prepared for the physical demands of Ranger School.
Maj. Lisa Jaster, center, becomes the third woman to graduate from the Army's elite Ranger School. She is shown with the first two women to earn the Ranger tab, Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, left, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, right.
Photo Credit: Paul Abell/AP Images for U.S. Army Reserve
Jaster's husband, Allan, is an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve.
"At my age, I've done a few things, so I've got a deep well of motivation that I can dig down into," said Jaster, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an article posted by the Reserve. "Some people worry that having a family is a detriment or that will demotivate me, but I think having that will make me stronger and will push me though."
What remains to be seen is whether the Army will open its infantry, armor and special operations ranks to women. Senior Army leaders have submitted their recommendation to the Defense Department; a decision isn't expected until the end of the year.
The Army has already opened its combat engineer and field artillery military occupational specialties to women.
Ranger School is the Army's premier combat leadership course, teaching students how to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress to lead soldiers in small-unit combat operations. It is separate from the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Soldiers who have earned Ranger Tabs, male or female, are not automatically part of the regiment, which has its own requirements and assessment process.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.