Army chooses 31 women for Ranger School experiment

A female soldier climbs to the top of an obstacle at Fort Benning, Ga., as part of observer/adviser selection training to support a potential Ranger course assessment involving women next year. U.S. ARMY

Army officials have selected 31 women as advisers and observers at its elite, all-male Ranger School, the latest indication that some women might be allowed to take the course next year.

The decision is deeply controversial among some rank-and-file troops, and follows a 2013 decision by the Pentagon to fully integrate women into the military. Service officials have until 2016 to do so or seek exemptions for certain jobs. It’s remains uncertain what service officials will do in the conventional infantry and elite units like the 75th Ranger Regiment, both of which can be grueling physically.

The women selected for the potential Ranger School experiment includes 11 officers and 20 enlisted noncommissioned officers, officials with the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., said in a Facebook post. They took part in a week of training there to get a better sense of the mental and physical demands placed on Ranger students. More than three dozen women had applied for the positions

“I was very satisfied with both the quality and quantity of the volunteers we received,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning. “Their performance and professionalism over the course of the week was extraordinary. This group did very well for what was a very physically challenging week for any Soldier.”

Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, said the women were interviewed by Army officials and attempted numerous events incorporated in Ranger training before their selection, he said.

The Ranger Course is 62 days long, and includes three phases. The first is at Fort Benning. The second takes place in the mountains of Camp Frank D. Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., and the third occurs in swamps at Camp James E. Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. If women take the course and pass next year, they will be allowed to wear the Army’s prestigious Ranger tab on their uniform, but will not join the 75th Ranger Regiment.

To pass Ranger School, students must receive a passing grade while leading a patrol, a positive peer review and have no more than three negative “spot reports,” Army officials said. The students also must complete a variety of physically demanding tasks, including a physical assessment test, a 12-mile road march, a land navigation course, and a combat water survival assessment.

The military continues to consider how to integrate women in the other services, as well. In the Marine Corps, for example, the 13-week Infantry Officer Course was opened in 2012, and enlisted infantry training was opened in 2013. Some women have passed the enlisted program, but are not allowed to serve in the infantry. No women have passed the officer course, which is considered more difficult.

Women in Ranger school

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Dan Lamothe

The Washington Post

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