The U.S. Army’s intense Ranger School will graduate its first two female soldiers this week, Army officials announced.
The women began the class with 380 men and a total of 19 women; they are the only two women to make it through the course and will earn their Ranger Tabs alongside 94 of the male members.
They are both graduates of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York but their names have not been released by the Army.
Although the commencement ceremony to be held at Fort Benning, GA marks a historic moment for the U.S. military, the women are still not allowed to try out for the 75th Ranger Regiment as it remains closed to women and requires a separate, grueling training course.
This round of Ranger training was the first class to include women as part of the Army’s assessment of how to better integrate women into their different branches.
The course began on April 20 with a pre-phase training and rigorous physical tests that required completing 49 push-ups in two minutes, 59 sit-ups in two minutes and a five-mile run in 40 minutes.
The official 60 day three-part training course followed the pre-phase and took students through Fort Benning, the U.S. Army Ranger headquarters, for the “Darby Phase”; then the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia for the “Mountain Phase”; and finally out to the Florida Panhandle for the “Swamp Phase.”
In a statement announcing the women’s successful completion of training, Army Secretary John McHugh said, “Each Ranger School graduate has shown the physical and mental toughness to successfully lead organizations at any level. This course has proven that every soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential.”
“We owe soldiers the opportunity to serve successfully in any position where they are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best soldiers to meet our nation’s needs,” McHugh added.
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According to the Washington Post, about 4,000 students attempt Ranger School each year with about 40% making it to graduation.
They include some service members who serve in the Ranger Regiment as well as others who serve in jobs ranging from military police to helicopter pilot.
“The feedback I’ve gotten with these women is how incredibly prepared they are,” said retiring Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
“The effort that they’ve put forward has been significant. They’ve impressed all that they’ve come in contact with. They are clearly motivated … and frankly, that’s what we want out of our soldiers.”