For the first time in history, two women will graduate the Army’s Elite Ranger school on Friday, completing one of the toughest combat training courses in the world.
The two West Point-trained officers are among 96 soldiers who will graduate on Friday in Fort Benning, Georgia, and represent the trainees who made it through the course after starting on April 20, NBC News reported. Four hundred soldiers, 19 of them women, began the training in April.
More than three quarters of trainees didn’t make it through the difficult course.
“This course has proven that every soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential,” Army Secretary John McHugh said.
The women who participated in the course were admitted as part of a one-time assessment that would help determine how to open combat jobs to women.
President Obama, in 2013, requested that the Pentagon order all branches of the military to open ground combat to women by 2016.
“I get goose bumps thinking about it,” retired. Gen. Anne Dunwoody, the first female military officer to reach four-star rank in history, said.
“When I came into the military ... I just assumed that I would have to perform better in order to be accepted into the ranks in the military," she added.
Ranger Roger Carstens, a senior fellow in national security with the nonprofit Foreign Policy Research Institute, admitted that when he went through the course he believed that women wouldn’t be able to do it.
Now, he said, the historic graduation of the soldiers means that women can be successfully integrated into all parts of the Army.
“The key is maintaining the standards,” he said. “To lower those standards to fit a quota is a disservice to comrades and country and could result in mission failure."
Photo credit: U.S. Army via nbcnews.com, usatoday.com