After four days of intense mental and physical training, there are eight women remaining in the first U.S. Army Ranger School class to include females, Army officials said Thursday.
Less than half the class made it through the first four days.
A class of 399 soldiers started the challenging 62-day course to become U.S. Army Rangers, among the nation’s elite warriors. Of that group, 19 were women going through the toughest school the Army offers. There are 192 soldiers remaining including 184 men. The overall success rate for the men was 48 percent, compared to 42 percent for the women.
The Army has not altered the course’s difficult standards for the women trying to earn the Ranger tab.
The weeding-out process began Monday, with 81 soldiers failing the physical assessment test and being released from the class. Of the 81 who failed, three were women, making the early failure rate 21 percent for men and 16 percent for women.
This first week of training is taking place on Fort Benning and is called Ranger Assessment Phase, or “RAP week.” It started with a physical assessment requiring Ranger candidates to meet a standard of 49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes or less, and six chinups. Before it is over, the training will move to the mountains of North Georgia and to the Florida swamps near Destin.
Tuesday, the soldiers were put through a land navigation course inside an 11-mile perimeter. They had to find four of five targets using maps and old-school navigation tools. Those that failed Tuesday were able to take another shot at the course Wednesday.
The final critical event of the assessment phase was a 12-mile road march in which each soldier had to shoulder about 35 pounds of gear and 15 pounds of water and hydration equipment. The march had to be completed in three hours or less.
There are no women enrolled in future additional Ranger School classes. The women who have made it this far just as the men will have the opportunity to recycle into a future course if they are dropped for any reason. Less than 50 percent of those who volunteer for the course earn the Ranger tab. Only about 20 percent go straight through without having to recycle and complete a phase they did not pass.
All of the women who started the course had successfully completed a two-week Ranger Assessment Training Course at the Warrior Training Center on Fort Benning. The course has arguably the highest success rate of any of the pre-Ranger training programs, said Col. William J. Butler, deputy commandant of the Infantry School. About 60 percent of the training course graduates successfully complete Ranger School.
The training course mirrors the first couple of weeks of Ranger School with the physical fitness test, land navigation and marching.
There were 113 women who went through the pre-Ranger course, taking up 138 slots because some of the women went through the course multiple times. One woman who began Ranger School on Monday went through the course three times.
Only about 3 percent of the Army has earned the Ranger tab.