Army Ranger school is recognized force-wide as perhaps the best leadership school in the United States military. The 61-day course focuses on small unit tactics, building combat leaders under intense mental and physical stresses. Graduates of the intensive program are awarded the Ranger Tab, which is worn on the upper shoulder of the left sleeve on the Army Combat Uniform and is authorized for wear for the remainder of a soldier’s career. Now, for the first time ever, a female U.S. Air Force Airman has successfully completed the course and been awarded the coveted Ranger Tab.

First Lt. Chelsey Hibsch was awarded her Ranger Tab in a ceremony held at Fort Benning, Georgia on August 30. The security forces officer, assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California, first had to make it through the Ranger Assessment Course held at Camp Bullis, Texas — but according to the Airman, it was that assessment course that prompted her to go after her Ranger Tab. These weren’t Hibsch’s first notable accomplishments in service either. In 2018, Hibsch’s Pacific Air Forces security forces team won the Advanced Combat Skills Assessment competition, as well as the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge title.

“These are the key tasks and skills we need to have confidence in as security forces members,” Hibsch said during an interview for the ACSA competition. “You’re going to fall back on the level of your training and this just goes to show how good our squadron’s been about training.”

In total, more than two dozen female service members have successfully completed Army Ranger School and earned their Tab since the course was opened to females in 2015, but Hibsch is the first woman from the Air Force to make it through the grueling training and successfully come out on the other side. In fact, according to the U.S. Army, only about 300 Airmen have ever earned their Ranger Tab since Air Force personnel started being allowed in the program in 1955, placing Hibsch in elite company regardless of gender.

“Lt. Hibsch represents the very best of our Air Force and Air Mobility Command — determined, innovative, and capable of breaking barriers,” Col. Doug Jackson, 621st Contingency Response Wing commander, said in a press release. “Moreover, as evidenced by her completion of this rigorous training, she exhibits steadfast commitment to joint teams and partnerships. The entire 621st Contingency Response Wing is proud of Chelsey and her remarkable accomplishment.”

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