Three Female Soldiers Advance to Phase 2 of Ranger School

U.S. Army soldiers participate in the Darby Queen obstacle course as part of their training at the Ranger School at Ft. Benning Ga., June 28, 2015. Army Photo.
U.S. Army soldiers participate in the Darby Queen obstacle course as part of their training at the Ranger School at Ft. Benning Ga., June 28, 2015. Army Photo.

The three female Army officers going through Ranger School have passed phase one of the grueling, all-male infantry course and will advance to the mountain phase, Fort Benning officials announced today.

The one female major and two female first lieutenants will join 158 male students at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., on July 11 for 20 days of intensive platoon training and operations in the Chattahoochee National Forest, according to a July 10 press release.

The phase consists of four days of military mountaineering training, four days of techniques training, 10 days of student led patrols, and one administrative day where the students are counseled on their performance during the phase. Students who meet the standards of the Mountain Phase will move to the Florida Phase of Ranger School on August 1, according to the release.

"The students of this class, just as all other Ranger Classes, have shown strength and determination to persevere and complete the first phase of this rigorous course in the heat of the Georgia summer," Ranger School, Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, said in the release.

"I'm confident that they are trained and ready to tackle the Mountain Phase of Ranger School."

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The three females, who have not been identified, failed at two attempts to make it through the first phase of Ranger School, but the trio's performance impressed the school's leadership enough to earn a chance to start over from day one.

On June 21, the three females started over again with a new class that contained 362 men. By the end of the first week, the class contained 173 males and the three women, who went on to phase one, known as Darby Phase.

"Fifteen [male] students failed to meet the standards of the Darby Phase of Ranger School and will be dropped from the course," the release states. "For a variety of reasons, these students were unsuccessful at meeting the standard. However, the vast majority who are being dropped from the course were unable to successfully lead a patrol."

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 combat training program.

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 those 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.

"I had the opportunity to observe this class during their training and was especially impressed by the professionalism and extreme competence of the Ranger Instructors," Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said in the release. "Without a doubt, Ranger School is the most physically and mentally demanding course in the U.S. Army. I have complete admiration for the soldiers, other services and partner nations who volunteer to attend and work to earn their Ranger Tab."

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

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