Two female soldiers will graduate from the Army's grueling Ranger School on Friday, becoming the first women to ever complete what is considered one of the U.S. military's most difficult and premier courses to develop elite fighters and leaders, the Washington Post reported Monday, citing an unnamed senior Army official said.
The accomplishment marks a major breakthrough for women in the armed services at a time when each of the military branches is required to examine how to integrate women into jobs like infantryman in which they have never been allowed to serve.
But even as the two new female graduates will be the first women allowed to wear the prestigious Ranger Tab on their uniforms, they still are not allowed to try out for the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations force that remains closed to women and has its own separate, exhausting requirements and training.
The women will receive the Ranger Tab alongside dozens of male service members in a ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., the home of Ranger School's headquarters, the senior Army official said. The official spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity while the Army finalized a news release.
The event is expected to draw not only family and friends, but hundreds of well-wishers and media from across the country. The female graduates are expected to speak to the media for the first time on Thursday alongside instructors and other soldiers at Ranger School.
The women have not been identified by the Army, but both are officers and graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Army officials said. The female graduates started Ranger School on April 20 alongside 380 men and 17 other female soldiers in the first class to ever include women. The female soldiers were allowed into Ranger School as part of the Army's ongoing assessment of how to better integrate women.
Some skeptics, especially in the military, have questioned whether the women were given an easier path to graduation. But senior Army officials have insisted that is not the case.