Friday morning's Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning will include two females for the first time in the history of the United States Army.
Ranger School is some of the most difficult training -- physically and psychologically -- offered by the Army. For a look at what participants must endure, read this
And the good news keeps coming as a third woman is in the mountain phase of the course and still has potential to graduate.
All three women are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The Army has yet to identify the women publicly.
Sue Fulton was in the first class at West Point open to women -- back in 1980. At the time, she and another classmate petitioned the Secretary of the Army to be allowed to attend Ranger School but were denied.
“Almost 40 years after women entered West Point, women have been allowed to prove they have the stuff to be combat leaders, and they succeeded,” said Fulton, now the chairperson of the West Point Board of Visitors, an oversight board that reports to President Barack Obama. “For me and for many women graduates, this is a powerful moment — we are so grateful to these extraordinary women for their achievement. They have validated the principle that every soldier should be allowed to prove themselves based on their abilities rather than their gender — and we salute these two women, along with the third woman still in the mountain phase, along with every soldier who has taken on the challenge to become an Army Ranger.”
To be clear, passing Ranger School does not mean that these women will see service in one of the Ranger's three elite battalions. Many men wear Ranger tabs on their uniform and never serve in the battalions. A soldier must still submit to and pass the Ranger Selection and Assessment Program.
As it stands today, women are not allowed to serve as as special operations, infantry or armor forces, which are thought to be most dangerous combat jobs. But they can serve in support jobs like medics, military police and intelligence officers that are sometimes attached to combat brigades. In 2012, the Army Chief of Staff at the time, Gen. Raymond Odierno said that while he was considering opening Ranger School to women, his commanders were considering whether or not they should open combat positions to women.
90 year old, Ralph Puckett -- and member of the Ranger Hall Of Fame -- said in 2014 that he had numerous conversations with non commissioned officers in Fort Benning’s 75th Ranger Regiment and they all said they had no trouble with women in their ranks as long as the standards were maintained. Col. David G. Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade based at Fort Benning, says that throughout this process the standards have not been lowered to make the course easier for women to pass.
“All the women did the exact same thing as their male counterparts,” Fivecoat said during the Florida swamp phase. The two graduating women were among a group of 400 soldiers, including 20 women, who began the school in April. Of that 400, 251 men and 17 women have been dropped. Soldiers are offered a 'recycle' which means after a failure they can choose to restart the phase. The two graduating women and the one still on the course all really solidified their place in training when they agreed to start over.
“By accepting the Day 1 recycle, they absolutely validated their place here,” said Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Command Sgt, Maj. Curtis Arnold, “This is tough, physically and mentally demanding training, and a soldier has to earn that Ranger tab. ... What it said was they were here to earn it, that this was not a sideshow and there was not an agenda.” In other words, they proved they could be soldiers.
With the U.S. looking to integrate women into all levels of military service by 2016, this is a very good step forward. Women have proved that they are capable. They are able. They are strong and badass. I love this story, how about you?
Do you think we'll see women in combat in the near future?
Source: Ledger Enquirer
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