Fewer than half of those attending the Army Rangers training course graduate. Among the requirements:
• Complete 49 push-ups within 2 minutes..
• Do 59 sit-ups.
• Run 5 miles within 40 minutes.
• Do six chin-ups.
• Swim 15 meters in uniform and boots.
Army Secretary John McHugh approved the change, and the first women to enroll will begin training in late April.
McHugh’s decision marks the latest move in the Pentagon’s push to open as many combat jobs as possible to women. Currently, about 900 of the military’s approximately 1,000 occupations are open to women, but the toughest ones remain closed to them, including infantry, armor and special operations jobs.
While completing the leadership course would let women wear the coveted Ranger tab, it does not let them become members of the Ranger regiment. Currently, only men can be in the 75th Ranger Regiment — the special operations unit based at Georgia’s Fort Benning.
Joining the regiment requires additional schooling that is physically, emotionally and mentally challenging.
Women and men preparing for the Ranger course will participate in a 16-day training and assessment school that will train women on some of the infantry and combat skills they would not already have.
The Ranger school includes three phases. The first 20 days focus on military skills and endurance. The second is a mountain phase that includes more small-unit operations and survival techniques. The final, so-called swamp phase takes place in Florida and includes airborne assaults, amphibious operations, and extreme mental and physical stress.
Juliet Beyler, the Pentagon’s director of officer and enlisted personnel management, said Thursday that opening the Ranger school to women was the “next logical step,” as the department continues its review of all jobs across the military to see if women are qualified to hold them.
As the year goes on, she said, each step will inform the next, so the experiences of the women in the Ranger school will be examined and used as examples as other job openings are considered.
She noted that some women are already serving in a few specific jobs linked to units of special operations forces. Mainly, they are in logistics, administrative and psychological operations posts at the headquarters level.
But one woman is now a member of the elite 160th special operations aviation regiment, known as the Night Stalkers. The unit is best known for flying the helicopters that took Navy SEALs into Osama bin Laden’s compound in 2011.
The Pentagon lifted its ban on women in combat jobs in 2012, but gave the military services time to integrate women into the male-only front-line positions.
Special operations jobs are some of the last to be addressed, as commanders review the qualifications needed and assess the impact of bringing women in.
Military leaders have made it clear that they will not reduce standards for any jobs in order to admit women.
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