The road for three women seeking to become the first females to earn the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger tab has led them back to Camp Darby on the eastern edge of Fort Benning.
On Friday the Army announced that three women — part of a class of 362 soldiers that started the Ranger Assessment Phase on Monday — will move to the next phase at Camp Darby this weekend. There was a 45.5 percent success rate for the class, with 166 soldiers moving forward, according to an Army news release. Those 166 soldiers will join 53 more soldiers who will be making their second attempt at Camp Darby.
Almost two months ago, eight women reported to Camp Darby to begin the three-phase small-unit patrol portion of Ranger School, a volunteer leadership program that tests a soldier’s mental and physical fitness. Until April 19, the course had been open only to men. All eight women failed to get out of the phase and were offered a chance to “recycle” and try again with the next class.
On May 29, the Army announced that five of the women had been dropped from the course after failing the Camp Darby phase for a second time. Three of the female soldiers were offered what the Army termed a “Day One Recycle,” which meant they could start the course over from the beginning.
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All three women who took that offer waited three weeks for the next class to begin. Two male soldiers who had failed the Camp Darby phase for a second time on May 29 were offered the opportunity to start the course over. They declined.
For the second time, the female soldiers completed the grueling physical assessment phase, which was compounded by the summer heat. They had to pass a physical fitness test that included 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups and a 5-mile run in under 40 minutes. They also had to pass a land navigation test and a 12-mile march in under three hours carrying a 35-pound rucksack plus 15 pounds of water.
After about two weeks at Camp Darby, the training for the soldiers who pass will resume at Camp Merrill in the north Georgia mountains. The final phase of the course is at Camp Rudder in the Florida swamps near Destin.
Ranger School candidates test their combat infantry skills and leadership ability while being deprived of normal sleep and nutrition. They are graded on how they perform leading small-unit patrols, of usually about seven soldiers, in accomplishing military tasks.