West Point women fire back at congressman

West Point women fire back at congressman
© Getty Images

A group of female West Point graduates is pushing back on a congressman who asked for the records of the first female Army Ranger School graduates by demanding his Ranger School records.

On Thursday, the West Point women submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the Ranger School records of Rep. Steve RussellSteven (Steve) Dane RussellThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Oklahoma New Members 2019 MORE (R-Okla.).

ADVERTISEMENT

Last week, Russell sent a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh asking for documents on the Ranger School women’s test scores, injuries, evaluations and more.

"If Congressman Russell claims that Rangers lie, and can be influenced to ignore standards, perhaps he experienced that when he went through Ranger School. We would like to see definitive proof that he is entitled to his tab," said Sue Fulton, a former Army captain and 1980 West Point graduate, on behalf of the group. 

Fulton told The Hill that the idea for the FOIA request began after the group discussed Russell's request on an informal Facebook page. Since then, dozens of female West Pointers have asked, "How can I get in on it?" 

"West Point women are very connected," said Fulton, who was in the first class of female West Point graduates and serves as chairman of the school's board of visitors, and is its second female member and first openly gay member. 

"One of the things that's motivated us is that this is the same stuff that's gone on for 40 years," she said. 

Russell said he requested the documents because of allegations that the standards were lowered to allow the women to graduate.

“The records request on the recent Ranger classes that included females is to investigate serious allegations that are being made by members of the military,” he wrote in Facebook post.

Russell also cited his own experience in Ranger School.

“As one of only two Ranger qualified members of the House, I asked for the records to determine the nature of the allegations,” he wrote.

Army officials have repeatedly denied the women received special treatment.

Last month, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate from Ranger School, considered the Army’s toughest leadership training course. A third woman is still working her way through the course.

After Griest and Haver’s graduation, the Army officially opened Ranger School to all who qualified regardless of gender.

Fulton, who told the Army Times about a dozen West Point women were interested in making the FOIA request, said she sees parallels in the comments made about Griest and Haver in what she experienced.

“One of the reasons you're seeing such strong reaction from West Point women,” she said, “is that the arguments being made and the objections being raised are the same stuff that we have heard for decades."

- Updated at 3:49 p.m.