The United States Army is unfortunately not the best place for women. Harassment and sexual assault cases are a sad norm.
Things aren’t very favorable for women who want to serve the country in active combat as well. Things are slowly changing, however, as the Pentagon lifted its ban two years ago on women in direct combat roles and is transitioning by opening 14,000 support jobs for female soldiers to get them closer to the front lines on battlefields.
Just as for men, one of the most elite jobs a female soldier can achieve is an Army Ranger.
One hundred women went into the pre-training phase for the Army Ranger School, and in April, 19 qualified for the Darby Phase, which consists of 15 days of intensive squad training and operations in field environment at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The finalists went in to the 62-day training course. All 19 women failed. Eight of them were given a chance to try again but again didn't make it. Three will be given the opportunity to start over again.
The Ranger course is one of the toughest in the U.S. Army and only 3 percent of U.S. soldiers are Ranger-qualified.
Some argue that this was bound to happen because women just aren’t physically equal to the challenge.
But others think the course is just too strenuous – even going as far as calling it an opportunity for men to “thump their chest.”
So will it help if the course is made more realistically possible?
It may, if it is not being used as an excuse to keep women out of the "all boys club."
It’s not unlikely, keeping in mind the kind of tough time given to women in the Army just to discourage them from perusing their dreams of making a career in active duty.
Retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, a former top commander for U.S. forces in Afghanistan who also did three tours as an Army Ranger, explains: “I think it’ll be contentious, but I think it’s equitable and sensible to ask the question about what are the [Ranger School] standards that are only related to the fact that only men have ever done it.”
Whether they pass the test or not, women have already served alongside the U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan because there was no other way to break the gender barriers and reach out to Afghan women otherwise.
When you’re raiding remote compounds in Kandahar and need cooperation from the women, you need to send in another woman to talk to them.
Maj. John Vickery feels that since women accompanied U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan, “to deny them the same opportunity is probably not right.”
Here’s a video report: