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Two Female Officers Advance Final Phase of Army Ranger School

Ranger candidates, burdened with heavy packs and weapons, hike up a trail during the Mountain Phase of the traditionally all-male infantry course. (Army Photo)
Ranger candidates, burdened with heavy packs and weapons, hike up a trail during the Mountain Phase of the traditionally all-male infantry course. (Army Photo)

Two of the three female officers attending U.S. Army Ranger School have advanced into the final phase of the all-male infantry course, Fort Benning, Ga., officials announced Friday.

The two females and 125 men successfully completed the 18-day Mountain Phase of the course and will begin the third and final, Swamp Phase of Ranger School, located at Camp Rudder in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on Aug. 2.

One woman and 60 men will be recycled, or given a second attempt at passing Mountain Phase of Ranger School, which starts Saturday, Aug. 8.  

"The Ranger students, both male and female, are two-thirds of the way done with Ranger School.  I was very impressed with the students' toughness at leading platoon-size patrols in the North Georgia Mountains, during this extremely hot summer," said Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, in the July 31 release. "The coastal swamps of Florida will continue to test the students-only the best will be successful and earn the Ranger Tab."

The Swamp Phase of Ranger School is 17 days of extended platoon-level operations executed in the coastal swamp environment near Valparaiso, Fla.

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The phase consists of two jumps for airborne qualified personnel; four days of waterborne operations training to include small boat movements and stream crossings; a 10-day field training exercise with student-led patrols; and two administrative days where the students are counseled on their performance during the phase.

Students who meet the standards of the Swamp Phase will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia on Aug. 21 to graduate at Victory Pond.

Fort Benning held its first co-ed course of Army Ranger School on April 20.

Nineteen women and 380 men were pre-screened for the grueling, two-month long course.

By the end of the first week, only eight female soldiers completed the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week. But the remaining eight women weren't able to complete the first phase and advance to the second phase of the course. Instead, they were allowed to repeat the Darby Phase, along with 101 male repeat candidates.

Officials at the base announced May 29 that none of the eight passed the Darby Phase on their second attempt.

Three of the eight females, along with five male soldiers, were invited to start over on day one.

The decisions regarding who stays and who goes are made during a leadership board that convenes at the end of each phase of course.

The counseling session looks at how these candidates were evaluated by their peers as well as by Ranger instructors, who use what are known as "spot reports" to identify both positive and negative performance. A spot report could be given for building an excellent terrain model or for falling asleep during non-rest period, according to school officials.

Positive spot reports cancel out negative spot reports, and a student can't accumulate three negative spot reports during one phase.

The two females that completed Mountain Phase had to pass a knot test, complete a 1.8-mile foot march straight up Mount Yonah and meet the standards on platoon-level combat patrols, according to the release. Six men failed to meet the standards and will be dropped from Ranger School.

Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said he observed and participated in the mountain training with the students.

"Day Nine of a 10-day field training exercise in the North Georgia Mountains develops all of the qualities we are looking for in our future Rangers: grit, refusal to quit, tactical competence, and perhaps most importantly, teamwork while under extreme individual conditions," Miller said in the release. "It is impressive to observe the students' problem solving in this environment, and equally impressive to watch our Ranger Instructors coach, teach, and mentor in an absolutely professional manner."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com

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Army Rangers Women in the Military Military Training Matthew Cox

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