A version of the elite Army Ranger School that for the first time includes female students will begin on April 20 and will include at least 12 women as participants after the recent completion of a required prerequisite course by six more female soldiers, reports Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post.
On March 19, the last women passed the 16-day Ranger Training and Assessment Course (RTAC), which doubled the number of soldiers approved to attend the school, according to Army officials. The new assessment course is much like the the 62-day Ranger School, which is made up of periods of time in the jungle, mountains, and swamp and is recognized as one of the toughest courses in combat in the world.
As a part of creating greater integration of the sexes in the military, the new Ranger School course was opened by top Army officials as the Defense Department wrestles with which jobs in the military are suitable for women. Those women who pass will not be admitted into the elite membership of the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, but they will be trailblazers for future women vying for a position in the Army Ranger School and will be allowed to wear the honored Ranger tab.
In recent RTAC courses, one of 17 women and 35 of 83 men passed. Some have said that if a woman can pass the stringent requirements for physically challenging jobs like infantrymen, then, they should be able to obtain permission to do that job. Still, there are others who insist that too many cultural and logistical issues stand in the way of women serving in units that currently include only men.
The Ledger-Enquirer, Maj. William Woodard Jr., a company commander at the National Guard Warrior Training Center where the soldiers are trained, said:
According to the official Army website, the Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses for which a soldier can volunteer. What a soldier learns at this camp is how to lead his fellow soldiers on difficult missions for which he or she will need rigorous training. The course is over two months long and forces Ranger students to push the limits of their minds and bodies.
The course's purpose is to prepare both officers and enlisted soldiers for how to stand strong in combat arms-related functional skills. Army Rangers have as their primary mission to engage in close combat and direct-fire battles. The three distinct phases of Ranger School are called: crawl, walk, and run. For the Crawl Phase, the 20 day session assesses and develops physical and mental skills needed to complete combat missions and the rest of Ranger School.
The Walk Phase takes place in the mountains and is 21 days long. This is when students receive instruction on military mountaineering tasks and techniques for employing squads and platoons for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment.
Finally, the Run Phase of the course deals with a continuation of the development of the students' combat skills. Students must be able to persevere in the face of extreme mental and physical stress.