The U.S. Army’s competitive and rigorous Ranger School is officially open to women, according to an announcement on Sept. 2.
The elite school had only been open for men to apply through April 2015 until the Army created a gender-integrated assessment of the training course. On April 20, 19 women began at the school, Army Times reported.
Four months later, on Aug. 21, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate from the Ranger School, earning the well-known black and gold tab. Another female candidate from the original group is finishing up the final phases of the school’s program.
In a statement, the Army said that all “qualified personnel will be able to attend all future classes” at the Ranger School “regardless of gender.”
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“We must ensure that this training opportunity is available to all soldiers who are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best soldiers to meet our nation’s needs,” Army Secretary John McHugh said in the written statement.
Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, also commented on the decision:
“The Army’s No. 1 priority is combat readiness, and leader development is a function of combat readiness. Giving every qualified soldier the opportunity to attend the Ranger Course, the Army’s premier small unit leadership school, ensures we are maintaining our combat readiness today, tomorrow and for future generations.”
The Army will decide whether its infantry, armor and special operations groups will be open to women by the end of this year. Currently, combat engineer and field artillery military occupational specialties are open for women to apply.
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In a statement released last month, the Army described the grueling process to pass the Ranger School.
“Highlights of the course include a physical fitness test consisting of 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, and 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; multiple rubber boat movements; and 27 days of mock combat patrols,” the statement read.