By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. Army is edging closer to the full inclusion of female soldiers, as six more women have qualified to attend Ranger School.
In January, 2015, the Army announced that it was planning to conduct a pilot program for women at its elite Ranger School, for a cohort beginning on April 20, 2015. The Army said that as many as forty slots would be open for female soldiers who could qualify and were eligible.
To qualify for the school, the Army has required female soldiers complete a two-week Army National Guard Ranger Training and Assessment Course (RTAC) at Fort Benning, Georgia. In March, 119 soldiers (85 males and 34 females) started the RTAC session. By the end of it, only 31 soldiers, 25 males and 6 females, successfully completed the course.
The six women, all of them officers, will be joining six other women who had previously completed RTAC back in January, bringing the total number of women starting Ranger School, this month, to twelve.
But these women have a long way to go to achieve their goal. Ranger school is 61 days long, and is a grueling test of their physical and mental conditioning. Approximately 45% of soldiers admitted to Ranger School successfully complete it, with more than half of the failures occurring within the first four days. Most soldiers are disqualified during the physical fitness test conducted on the very first day, which requires candidates to complete 49 pushups in two minutes, 59 sit-ups in two minutes, six chin-ups, and a five miles run in forty minutes.
“Not every soldier is going to make it through this course,” said Major General Scott Miller, commanding general of Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence. “The standards are demanding, and the standards are not changing. They’re not changing in the pre-Ranger course, and they’re not going to change for the Ranger Course.”
Any female soldier who successfully completes Ranger School will receive a certificate, and will be awarded the elite Ranger tab. However, for now, none of the twelve women will be assigned to the 75th Ranger regiment, the Army’s special operations force.
The Army is using this pilot program as part of an effort to determine how best to include women into combat roles. This group of twelve women will be a first for Ranger School, which, until now, has only been open to men.
These soldiers are history in the making, and we wish them the best of luck at Ranger School.
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Military Connection: Twelve Women to Start Ranger School: By Debbie Gregory