Army Rangers’ first female soldiers make history
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Two women have passed the Army's Ranger School. They have become the first females to complete the grueling combat training program. It means they have earned the right to wear Ranger tabs on their uniforms.
The announcement was made by the Army's Ranger headquarters. It is in Fort Benning, Georgia. The women and 94 men passed the tough two-month course. It tests their ability to overcome tiredness, hunger and stress during combat operations.
Completing the leadership course lets the two women wear the coveted Ranger black-and-gold tab. But it does not let them become members of the Ranger regiment. Neither woman has been identified by the military.
Allowing women to participate in the Ranger course is part of the military's push to open more combat jobs to women. But the toughest jobs remain closed to female soldiers. They include infantry, armor and special operations positions. That includes the 75th Ranger Regiment. It requires additional schooling. It is schooling that is physically and mentally challenging before soldiers can join.
Still, former Army officers such as Sue Fulton praised the news. She was among the first women to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy in 1980. It is located at West Point, New York. Fulton believes it is another milestone toward ending gender barriers in the military.
"This answers whatever questions may still remain about whether women have the strength, the will and the physical courage to become combat leaders," Fulton said. She is a former Army captain. Now she chairs the West Point Board of Visitors. It is an advisory panel. It is made up of presidential appointees and members of Congress.
"Each Ranger School graduate has shown the physical and mental toughness to successfully lead organizations at any level," Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement. "This course has proven that every soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential."
"We owe soldiers the opportunity to serve successfully in any position where they are qualified and capable," he added.
The 62-day Ranger school includes three phases. Each is in a different part of the country. They includ wooded areas of Fort Benning. It also includes the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia and swamps in Florida.
The first 20 days of Ranger school focus on military skills and endurance. The mountain phase near Dahlonega, Georgia includes more small-unit operations and survival skills. The final so-called swamp phase takes place in Florida. The training test includes an airborne assault. It also includes amphibious operations and extreme mental and physical stress.
Female soldiers were held to the same physical standards as men. That included passing a fitness test. The test was made up of 49 push-ups and 59 sit-ups. They had to do six chin-ups and finishing a 5-mile run in 40 minutes. Graduates also had to perform a 12-mile foot march in three hours. They had to complete three parachute jumps and four air assaults on helicopters. They also had to endure 27 days of mock combat patrols.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is "mental toughness?"
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