Military Connection: Can Women Cut it In Ranger School?

rangersBy Debbie Gregory.

At MilitaryConnection.com, we have been keeping you updated on the opportunities opening to women in the military. We are happy to report on the progress the female warriors undergoing the Airborne Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning.

While it isn’t unusual that a class of 399 soldiers started their 62-day course to become  U.S. Army Rangers, what is unusual is that 19 soldiers were women. This is the first time in the 64 year history of Ranger School that women were allowed to train.

After the first four days, there are 184 men and eight women left.

Capt. Marcelle Burroni, an assigned observer/advisor called this event “historic.” For her colleague, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sun, it was just another day.

“I am an instructor. I am going to instruct whoever they put in front of me just the same,” Sun said.

The training kicked off with “RAP week” or Ranger Assessment Phase, which consisted of candidates meeting the following standard:

  • 49 pushups
  • 59 sit-ups
  • Running 5 miles in 40 minutes or less
  • Six chin-ups

There is no change in standards for women.

Burroni said she was not surprised at the results from the physical assessment and has “no doubt” there will be women successfully complete the course. But for now all eyes are on the women, she said.

“I think the challenge for them is to even show up here,” Burroni said.

That is the challenge for any soldier, Sun echoed.

“It takes a lot of guts to come here and try male or female,” Sun said. “… This is one of the few schools where if you fail, you are out. There is a stigma attached to failure in the Army. If they have the guts to come and try, that is a lot more than I can say for a lot of people,” something Burroni concurred with.

“Not everyone even on the male side of the house has the intestinal fortitude to show up for Ranger School,” she said.

And the statistics don’t lie. Only around 3% of the Army has earned a Ranger tab.

All of the women who started the course had successfully completed a two-week Ranger Assessment Training Course at the Warrior Training Center on Fort Benning.

The training course mirrors the first couple of weeks of Ranger School with the physical fitness test, land navigation and marching.

“The senior leaders of the Army want to set the women up for success, best we could,” Deputy Commandant of the Infantry School Col. William J. Butler said. “We wanted everybody to have a common reference and common framework. That is why we brought all of the women who wanted to come to the course to this pre-Ranger course.”

The most recent test was the Darby Queen, nearly a mile of rolling Chattahoochee County terrain on the far eastern reaches of Fort Benning, presenting 26 obstacles for Ranger School students to navigate.

They will work out of Camp Darby until May 8th, when they will be told if they have met the standards to move to Camp Merrill in the North Georgia mountains. The course concludes at Camp Rudder near Destin, Florida

“We are a long way from whatever decision is made on gender integration in the Army, but this will provide valuable information,” Commandant of the Infantry School Gen. James Rainey said.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor. Rangers, lead the way

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Military Connection: Can Women Cut it In Ranger School?: By Debbie Gregory