Fort Benning selects female advisers, observers for possible integrated Ranger School

Fort Benning officials cleared a hurdle last week with the selection of 31 female soldiers to serve as observers and advisers for a possible one-time Ranger School Assessment that would include female Ranger candidates training alongside male soldiers.

A decision on whether to move forward with the integrated assessment is expected in January. In preparation for the possibility, the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade selected 11 female officers and 20 female noncommissioned officers after a week of training that put them under the mental and physical demands placed on Ranger students.

Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, said he’s very satisfied with both the quality and quantity of the volunteers.

“Their performance and professionalism over the course of the week was extraordinary,” the commander said. “This group did very well for what was a very physically challenging week for any soldier.”

If the integrated Ranger School assessment gets approved by Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno in January, then the observers/advisers would work alongside the male Ranger instructors and help identify lessons learned from male and female Ranger candidates training together, but they would not evaluate Ranger students.

Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, said a lot of high performing individuals took part in the training. “The Ranger Training Brigade put them through some of the events that Ranger students attempt during Ranger training, interviewed them, and have selected the most qualified to return and work with us as advisers and observers,” he said.Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis H. Arnold Jr. noted the professionalism of the Ranger instructors that’s expected from officers and noncommissioned officers.

“The overwhelming opinion from the candidates was that this was the most challenging, professional and rewarding experience of their careers,” he said. “It truly reinforces our motto, Rangers Lead the Way.”

Female soldiers in the ranks of specialist to major were given the opportunity to be considered for Ranger School by submitting a DA Form 4187, just as their male counterparts are required to do.

With 62 days of training, the first of three phases of the Ranger Course starts at Fort Benning’s Camp Rogers and Darby. It’s followed by the mountain phase at Camp Frank D. Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., and the swamp phase at Camp James E. Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

To get through each phase of the training, Ranger students must receive a “passing grade” in one leadership position during patrol, a positive peer review and no more than three major negative spot reports. Students also must successfully complete the Ranger Physical Assessment, which includes 49 pushups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups and a five-mile run in 40 minutes. There is also a 12-mile road march in three hours, land navigation course and the Combat Water Survival Assessment.

More than half of the Ranger students don’t make it through Ranger training.