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Third Female Enters the Final Phase of Army Ranger School

A third female Army officer has completed Mountain Phase and is entering the final phase of Ranger School a week after two other Army females became the first women in history to earn Ranger Tabs.(Fort Benning Photo)
A third female Army officer has completed Mountain Phase and is entering the final phase of Ranger School a week after two other Army females became the first women in history to earn Ranger Tabs.(Fort Benning Photo)

Another female U.S. Army officer has passed Mountain Phase of Ranger School and is advancing to the final phase of the all-male infantry course.

The West Point graduate follows two other West Pointers – 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest, who made history recently at Fort Benning, Ga., by becoming the first women to earn the prestigious Ranger Tab on Aug. 21.

The female, who has not been identified, will join 103 men at Swamp Phase of Ranger School, located at Camp Rudder, Fla., on August 29, according to a Aug. 28 Fort Benning press release.

Additionally, 45 men will be recycled, or given a second attempt at Ranger School.  

The Swamp Phase is located in the coastal swamp environment near Valparaiso, Florida.  The phase consists of two jumps for airborne qualified personnel; four days of waterborne operations; small boat movements and stream crossings; a 10 day field training exercise with student led patrols. Students who meet the standards of the Swamp Phase will travel back to Benning on Sept. 18 to graduate at Victory Pond.

The third female is the last of the original 19 female volunteers to go through the first co-ed class of Ranger School beginning April 20. In addition to the 19 women, there were 380 men who started the course.

Ranger School is a 62-day course that's described as the Army's premiere infantry leadership course, an ordeal that pushes students to their physical and mental limits. Over the past two years, only about 40 percent of males successfully completed the course, according to leaders from the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.

During the three-phase course, the students learn how to operate in three environments -- woodlands in Fort Benning, mountainous terrain in Dahlonega, Georgia, and coastal swamp at Camp Rudder in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The accomplishments of Griest and Haver come at a time when all of the services are preparing to make recommendations of how to open direct-action combat jobs such as infantry to women. Under a 2013 directive from then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the military services must open all combat jobs to women by next year or explain why any must stay closed.

For now, the Army is planning on sending more females to Ranger School. The service will hold another gender-integrated course in November.

Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Benning, has maintained from the beginning that the standards for Ranger School have not changed. The former Delta Force leader acknowledged recently that Griest and Haver earning their Ranger Tabs has changed the landscape of Ranger School forever.

"It's not exclusively a male domain here," Miller said Aug. 20. "We have shown that two women can make it as well."

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

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