Three women trying to become the first females to complete the most physically and mentally demanding training offered by the U.S. Army successfully made it through the physical assessment on Monday, said Col. William J. Butler, deputy commandant, U.S. Army Infantry School.
The women have been in Ranger School since April 19 as part of the Army’s gender-integrated Ranger Course Assessment. On May 29, the three women, who were part of a group of 19 women to start the course, were offered the opportunity to start the program over from the beginning after twice failing the first patrol phase.
There were five soldiers on May 29 offered the chance to do what the Army calls a “Day One Recycle.” The three women accepted the chance to start over and two male soldiers declined it.
On Monday, the women successfully completed the physical assessment for the second time. They had to do 49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes or less, and six chinups.
“That is a good start, but they have a long way to go,” said Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis L. Smith, whose last assignment was with the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning ending in 2012.
To complete the four-day Ranger Assessment Phase, the soldiers still must pass a land navigation test and do a 12-mile march in three hours or less carrying about 50 pounds of equipment and water.
If they get through the assessment phase, they go to Camp Darby on the eastern edge of Fort Benning to start the small unit patrols, on which they will be graded for the remainder of the course. Eight women in the April 19 class made it through the assessment phase, but all failed to get out of Camp Darby despite two attempts each. Five of the eight were dropped from the course.
Before it is over, the training will move from Camp Darby on Fort Benning, then into the mountains of North Georgia and to the Florida swamps near Destin over the next two months.
The Army has not identified the three women who are still in the course. On Saturday, Smith met with one of the women who was on a day pass.
“She looked great and healthy,” Smith said. “She was not beat up at all.”
Ranger School candidates test their combat infantry skills and leadership ability while being deprived of normal sleep and nutrition.
After being offered the “Day One recycle” more than three weeks ago, the women stayed in the school and were able to eat regular meals, attend training and physically recover as they prepared to join the class that reported Sunday.
Smith said he met the women through a mutual acquaintance.
“She was focused,” Smith said. “I was able to give her a little advice.”----