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'Best Ranger' Changes Tune on Female Rangers

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The Ledger-Enquirer newspaper in Georgia published an interesting article about how the U.S. Army's top Ranger has changed his tune on allowing female soldiers into the historically all-male infantry training course.

The article was written by Chuck Williams, one of the relatively few reporters whom the Army invited to watch the first two female officers making their way through the third and final "swamp phase" of Ranger School at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Williams interviewed Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Lemma, who along with Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Briggs in April won the Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. Lemma, shown at right the above photograph, was initially opposed to opening up the course to women, according to the article:

"I questioned it, too. I questioned the process as well. How wouldn't you? Years of Ranger School going back to the 1950s, and we are finally getting females through," he told the newspaper. "If you are a male and you are tabbed, you are probably going to question it."
But Lemma changed his mind after turning the question on himself, according to the article:
"You got to ask yourself why you are saying, 'I don't think females should be in Ranger School,'" he told the newspaper. "Is it a pride thing? Do you feel that tab you have earned is less masculine now because females are now equal to you? "If that is the case, then that is you. You've got to look at yourself. Obviously, you are not comfortable with who you are. You feel intimidated. I think you have to question why you feel that way."
The two women began the final phase alongside 125 men. If they can complete the course, they'll graduate Aug. 21 and become the first-ever female soldiers to wear the Ranger tab.

--Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com

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