On Monday, April 20, 19 women made history when they took part in the Army Ranger School Physical Fitness Test. “The assessment is part of a wider effort to determine whether and how to open combat arms jobs to women, and it is a first for Ranger School, which until now was open only to men,” according to the Army Times.
Ranger School is designed to push soldiers to their limits, both physically and mentally. Despite this, the number of female soldiers interested in attending Ranger School was so high that the list of candidates needed to be largely narrowed down. The Army allowed 160 women to attend the two-week Army National Guard Ranger Training and Assessment Course. From there, the pool of candidates was continuously whittled down until only 19 remained. These lucky few were given the chance to be the first women to ever enter Army Ranger School.
A total of 399 soldiers took the Ranger physical fitness test. Army Ranger School is infamous for being especially brutal. In order to pass, each student must complete 49 push-ups and 59 sit-ups in two minutes, run five miles in under 40 minutes, and do six chin-ups. Seventy-eight men and three women failed, the rest met the requirements.
On average, only 45 percent of soldiers will graduate from Ranger School, and as many as 60 percent fail within the first four days. However, nearly 85 percent of the female soldiers are, so far, beating the odds. The females actually had a higher pass rate than the men. It is becoming apparent that women may be equally, if not more qualified to take part in the specialized units of the United States Military.
In other military branches, the physical fitness standards are different for men and women. Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne Ranger Training Brigade, says “all Ranger students will be treated equally and they will be graded to the same standards.”
All eyes are on the remaining 16 women as they continue through the Ranger Assessment Phase, or “RAP week.” Several Army Officers claim the only way to tell the men and women apart during training exercises is the “less severe haircuts.” After RAP week, the soldiers have 57 days to learn the ropes of being an Army Ranger. If these 16 females continue to perform the way they have, it is very likely they will earn the coveted Ranger tab.
Even if the women graduate, they will only receive a certificate and be awarded the coveted Ranger tab, but they will not be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment. This is definitely a huge feat for women to even be a part of Ranger School, but there is still a long way to go before it can be considered a true victory.