By Oren Liebermann, CNN
The first woman has graduated from the US Army’s elite sniper school, completing the seven-week course designed to produce “the most feared weapon on the battlefield.”
The soldier, who enlisted in the Montana National Guard last December, has not been identified.
Following her enlistment, she was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, for One Station Unit Training, a 22-week course that combines basic training and infantry skills, the Montana National Guard said. The One Station Unit Training staff noticed her standout results, including qualifying as an expert shooter, and recommended her for sniper school, also at Fort Benning.
“We are extremely proud of this Soldier’s achievement and recognize that this is a milestone for not only Montana, but the entire National Guard and Army,” said Maj. Gen. J. Peter Hronek, the adjutant general for Montana, in a statement.
Beyond a test of precision shooting, the course also trains soldiers in mission planning, advanced battlefield awareness, complex engagements and more.
“She arrived prepared for training and physically conditioned to succeed. We are proud of the results of her efforts and the quality training provided by the Sniper Course Cadre,” said Capt. David Wright, a battalion commander at the sniper school.
Having become the first woman to graduate from the Army’s sniper school since its establishment in 1987, the soldier will now join her unit in Montana, the Guard said.
Of the 1.3 million members of the active-duty military, only about 17% are women. The Army, Navy and Air Force each have approximately 70,000 women, while the Marine Corps has about 16,000 women, according to data from the Defense Department.
Increasingly, women are taking over some of the top jobs in the Defense Department. Kathleen Hicks is the first women to serve as deputy secretary of defense.
Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost became the second woman to lead a combatant command when she took over Transportation Command last month. Two weeks later, Gen. Laura Richardson became commander of Southern Command. They are currently the only female four-star generals in the Defense Department.
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CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.