Capt. Kristen Griest makes history by becoming US army’s first woman infantry officer
Captain Kristen Griest became one of the first women to graduate from the US Army Ranger School in 2015Getty Images

The US Army welcomed its first female infantry officer on 28 April. Captain Kristen Griest made history after she became the first woman ever to graduate from the Maneuver Captain's Career Course.

A 2011 West Point graduate, Griest along with Lt Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate from the Ranger School in 2015. As part of its new gender integration process, the army has adopted a "leader first" approach, which will see the positions for officers filled before newly-enlisted soldiers are assigned to their units.

"We're not going to turn our back on 50% of the population. We are opening up every occupation to women. I think that's pretty historic," said Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy.

"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 and Fort Benning, Georgia. "Her transfer was approved by the Department of the Army [on Monday] and she's now an infantry officer."

More women are soon expected to follow in Griest's footsteps.

In early April, the army approved requests from 22 female cadets to enter its infantry and armour branches, serving as second lieutenants. Nine of the cadets will head to the infantry branch, while 13 others will enter the armour branch, which, according to a report by Reuters, includes tanks.

The US Army did not accept women in combat positions till 2013, when the Pentagon overturned the pre-existing constraints revolving around gender. However, it was not until December 2015 that all combat positions were officially made available to women on Defence Secretary Ash Carter's order, the Army Times reported. Carter's decision not only opened the door to women in armed forces to opt for combat roles, it also created over 200,000 jobs across the US military.