Two women will graduate from one of the most difficult and grueling courses in the Army on Friday, the famed Army Ranger School.
This is an historic moment for women in the military, as many of the US military's premier units are assessing how best to integrate women into jobs previously only held by men. Although the women will have earned the right to wear the coveted Ranger Tab, they will not be allowed to attempt to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations unit that has additional requirements and training.
The women, who have not been publicly named, will graduate at Fort Benning, GA, this Friday, in a ceremony that is expected to not only draw many friends and family members, but also large amounts of media. We do know that both women are graduates of West Point and are officers, and both started Ranger School in April, with 380 men and 17 other women.
Although in the beginning, the attrition rate for women was comparable to men (8 of 19, or about 40% of the women passed the initial Ranger Assessment Phase, which is similar to men), after the end of the first phase (known as Darby Phase) all 8 women had failed twice. Only three of the 8 were offered the opportunity to try Ranger School again (known as a Day 1 Recycle, since they start from the very beginning again). Although unusual, Day 1 Recycles are offered to some Ranger students that excel in some areas of training, but fall short in others.
Of the three that were given the Day 1 Recycle, two completed the Mountain Phase (held in the mountains of northern Georgia) and the Florida Phase (held in Florida near Eglin AFB) on the first attempt. The final women candidate was held back in the mountain phase, and her status in not immediately available.
Although some suspect an easier path to graduation for the women, Army senior officials have repeatedly denied that being the case, even opening Ranger School to the media during each phase, and allowing them to see the women in action.