Without fanfare, Ranger School officially opens to female soldiers

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Soldiers negotiate an obstacle course during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., in April 2015. The U.S. Army Ranger School is now officially open to women. (Nikayla Shodeen/U.S. Army)
Soldiers negotiate an obstacle course during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., in April 2015. The U.S. Army Ranger School is now officially open to women. (Nikayla Shodeen/U.S. Army)

Without fanfare, Ranger School officially opens to female soldiers

by: Chuck Williams | .
Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer | .
published: November 05, 2015

U.S. Army Ranger School is now officially open to women — no pilot programs, no exclusions based on gender.

"We are ready to train whoever shows up to Ranger School and meets the standards," said Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Commander David Fivecoat on Tuesday.

But unlike the pilot process earlier this year that produced the first three women Rangers, the Army is not saying how many women students are in the current class that started on Monday at Camp Rogers on Fort Benning.

"We are now running an integrated Ranger course," Fort Benning spokesman Bob Purtiman said when asked the number of women in the current class. "... We are going to treat this like we do the other schools — such as Airborne — in which we don't release that information."

The current Ranger School class that began Monday included 417 students, Purtiman said. By the end of the first day of physical assessment that included a five-mile run in under 40 minutes, situps, pushups and chinups, the class was down to about 300, Purtiman said. Most of those who were dropped failed to do the required 49 pushups.

Though the Army is not saying how many women enrolled in the 62-day course or how they did in the early physical assessment, sources familiar with Ranger School told the Ledger-Enquirer about a half dozen females started the course.

The Ranger Assessment Phase, which takes four days, includes a land navigation test that students must pass and a 12-mile march that must be done in less than 3 hours. Those who pass the assessment will move to Camp Darby on Fort Benning for the first of three patrol phases. The middle phase is in the north Georgia mountains and the final phase is in the Florida swamps.

The decision to open the course to women was announced by the Army in early September after the first two women involved in a gender-integration pilot program earned their Ranger tabs.

In August, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first women to earn the tab in August, and a third, Maj. Lisa Jaster, finished the course last month.

Less than 3 percent of the Army's soldiers are Ranger-qualified.

The shift in more than six decades as a male-only combat leadership course comes in the wake of three women earning their Ranger tabs in a pilot program that started in April and took nearly six months to complete.

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