By Lora Strum
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 16, 2015) — The three women currently enrolled in the Ranger course on Fort Benning, Georgia, moved on to the Mountain phase portion of the course, July 11, after having met the standard to move out of the Darby phase.
The three women were not alone in moving to the mountain phase of the course. A total of 161 Soldiers completed Darby phase and moved into mountain phase, including three women and 158 men. Soldiers, who end up meeting the standards of the mountain phase of the course, will move to the Florida phase of Ranger course, Aug. 1.
In April 2015, for the first time in Army history, 19 women were allowed to participate in Ranger course as part of a Ranger course assessment. The assessment is a regular Ranger course, with all the same physical requirements. The Ranger course completion standards, to include prerequisites, phase performance requirements and graduation standards, were not changed as part of the assessment.
Assessing female Soldier performance in the Ranger course is part of an ongoing Army effort called Soldier 2020. That effort is meant to allow the Army’s best-qualified Soldiers an opportunity to serve in any position where they are capable of performing to standard.
The Ranger course begins with the Ranger assessment phase, also called RAP week. RAP week is followed by the Darby phase, which includes fast-paced instruction on troop-leading procedures, principles of patrolling, demolitions, field craft, and basic battle drills focused on squad ambush and reconnaissance missions.
The mountain phase consists of four days of military mountaineering training, four days of techniques training, 10 days of student-led patrols, and one administrative day, where the students are counseled on their performance.
The last phase of the Ranger course, on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, focuses on skills needed to survive in a rain forest or swamp.
While just three female Soldiers from the initial Ranger course assessment remain, proponents of allowing women to become Rangers, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, remain positive that the pilot program will produce results.
“I think we have had many females, who have done such a terrific job preparing,” Odierno said. “I think we will continue to do that and we will just see how it goes from there.”