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Army opens Ranger course to women

Published Jan. 16, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Army will allow as many as 60 women to participate in the next Ranger course, allowing women for the first time to compete in the grueling two-month combat school. It is considered one of the first steps into the military special operations field.

Army Secretary John McHugh approved the change that would allow women in the course beginning in late April. His decision marks the latest move in the Pentagon's push to open as many combat jobs possible to women. Today, about 900 of the military's approximately 1,000 occupations are open to women, but the toughest ones remain closed to them, including infantry, armor and special operation jobs.

While completing the leadership course would let women wear the coveted Ranger tab, it does not let them become members of the Ranger regiment. Only men can be in the 75th Ranger Regiment — the special operations forces unit based at Fort Benning, Georgia. Joining the regiment requires additional schooling that is physically, emotionally and mentally challenging.

Women and men preparing for the Ranger course will be able to participate in a 16-day training and assessment school that would train women on infantry and combat skills.

The Ranger school includes three phases. The first 20 days focus on military skills and endurance. The second is a mountain phase that includes more small-unit operations and survival techniques and the final, so-called swamp phase takes place in Florida.

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