It has been a hard road for women in Army Ranger School. All of the female volunteers have failed on their second attempt to pass the first phase of the traditionally, all-male infantry course, the Army announced Friday night.
The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade held its first co-ed course of Army Ranger School on April 20 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Nineteen women and 380 men were pre-screened for the combat training course.
Three of the women failed to pass the Ranger Physical Fitness Assessment, a requirement to enter Ranger School. Eight out of 16 female soldiers completed the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week, which consists of day and night land navigation, obstacle courses, skill tests and a 12-mile road march with a rifle, fighting load vest and rucksack weighing approximately 47 pounds.
But the remaining eight females 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 candidates.
Fort Benning officials announced May 29 that none of the eight passed the Darby Phase on their second attempt. Three of those females, along with five males, have been invited to start over on day one of the grueling course.
"This is normal course procedures and is used when students struggle with one aspect of the course and excel at others," according to the press release.
The next Ranger School class begins on Sunday, June 21, 2015.
The announcement comes one day after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said that the Army will likely run a couple more pilots where females go through Ranger School.
Senior Army leaders recently decided to allow females to attend the historically male-only, infantry course. The effort is a result of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's January 2013 directive that all services open combat-arms roles to women that so far have been reserved for men. The services have until 2016 to decide how to execute this.
According to the release, 29 students, including five females, failed to meet the standards of the Darby Phase of Ranger School and will be dropped from the course.
"For a variety of reasons, these students were unsuccessful at meeting the standard -- some for leading their graded patrols, some for a poor evaluation of their teamwork from their peers, some for accumulating too many negative spot reports, and some for a combination of all three," the release states. "However, the vast majority who are being dropped from the course were unable to successfully lead a patrol. All students received multiple opportunities to lead a patrol as a squad leader or team leader."
The Darby Phase of Ranger School is 15 days of intensive squad training and operations in a field environment at Fort Benning.
The phase consists of a day for basic airborne refresher and sustained airborne training, as well as a day for an airborne operation for those Ranger students who are airborne qualified; a day for the Darby Queen, an advanced obstacle course; a day of techniques training; two days of cadre assisted patrols; three days of student led patrols; one day of retraining; three days of student led patrols; and two administrative days where the students are counseled on their performance during the phase.
Col. David G. Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, and Command Sgt. Major Curt Arnold addressed the Ranger students this week, Fivecoat said.
"The group that was unsuccessful was, of course, disappointed in their performance," Fivecoat said. "However, each Ranger student, whether successful or unsuccessful, learned more about themselves, leadership, and small unit tactics, and returns to the Army a better trained soldier and leader."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at Matthew.Cox@military.com