First Female Soldiers to Graduate From Army Ranger School

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By Holly Yan and Barbara Starr

Two women are about to make history by becoming the first female soldiers to graduate from the Army’s exhausting Ranger School.

They’re among the 96 students who will graduate from the intensive training program Friday in Fort Benning, Georgia.

This was the first year the Army opened the course to women on a trial basis.

“This course has proven that every Soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential,” Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh said in a statement.

But it’s not clear what awaits the female graduates.

Unlike the male graduates, the two women can’t apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force.

The Pentagon isn’t expected to make final decisions about exactly what combat roles women will be allowed to fulfill until later this year.

Grueling training

The Pentagon describes Ranger School as “the Army’s premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations.”

The current class started in April with 381 men and 19 women. The students were forced to train with minimal food and little sleep and had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains and swamplands.

Students also had to undergo a physical fitness test that included 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin-ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters, and 27 days of mock combat patrols.

By the end of the 62-day course, only 94 men and two women met all the requirements.

The Pentagon did not identify the names of the soldiers set to graduate Friday.