Three women are on course to complete the extremely difficult Army Ranger School. As the AFP reports, there were 19 women who started the course in April, but 16 have since left the training program.
The three remaining women have completed the Darby Phase of the course. Colonel David Fivecoat, who is the commander of the Ranger training brigade, told AFP that most of the unsuccessful students have already left the school. Around 42 percent of students complete the Ranger course, after the Darby Phase, the graduation rate jumps to 75 percent.
"The students of this class, just as all other Ranger classes, have shown strength and determination to persevere and complete the first phase of this rigorous course in the heat of the Georgia summer,"Along with 158 men, the three women will move on to the second phase of the course. The next phase will involve the students traveling to the mountains of Georgia. After the mountain training phase in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest, successful students will move on to another stage of the course. The third phase of the course is held in Florida.
Major General Scott Miller, who commands the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said Ranger School is the most difficult course in the Army.
"Without a doubt, Ranger School is the most physically and mentally demanding course in the U.S. Army. I have complete admiration for the soldiers, other services and partner nations who volunteer to attend and work to earn their Ranger Tab."As the Washington Post notes, any woman that successfully completes the course will be given the coveted Ranger tab. However, a woman that receives a Ranger tab will not be able to join 75th Ranger Regiment, which conducts special operations.
"I had the opportunity to observe this class during their training and was especially impressed by the professionalism and extreme competence of the Ranger instructors,"Though women serving in special combat units is still a divisive topic, the military is likely to soon allow it. Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed his support for women serving in elite combat units. Secretary Carter said opening up the remainder of the military jobs to women and likened it to doubling the population of the country.
"Where I can have another half of our population be in that recruiting and retention pool, that's a pretty good deal for the department,"Even though the female students have made it to the second phase, they could still drop out before completing the course. Since they performed well enough to pass the initial phase, the odds of successful completion of the Ranger School are in their favor. If any of the three women complete the course, they will make military history.
[Photo by U.S. Army / Spc. Steven Hitchcock]