On Patrol

Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

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In April, a select group of female soldiers will make history when they become the first women to attend the Army’s famed Ranger School. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s cultural support program prepares all-female soldier teams to serve as enablers supporting Army special operations combat forces in and around secured objective areas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika, USAJFKSWCS)The U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s cultural support program prepares all-female soldier teams to serve as enablers supporting Army special operations combat forces in and around secured objective areas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika, USAJFKSWCS)

The shift is part of an integrated assessment to help determine how and when to open combat arms jobs to female troops.

“We’re going to let statistics speak for themselves as we go through this,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said during a recent virtual town hall meeting with soldiers. “The main thing I’m focused on is the standards remain the same. In order to earn that tab you have to do all the things necessary to earn that tab. We want to try a pilot to let women have the opportunity to do that.”

The Army issued two messages last fall requesting any female soldiers interested in signing up for Ranger School as students or advisors. The response was so large, the service had to whittle down the number of candidates allowed to participate.

Forty seats will be available for female candidates in each iteration of the Ranger Training and Assessment Course. All candidates are required by the Army to complete the pre-Ranger course prior to Ranger School.

“Secretary of the Army John McHugh approved the participation of both men and women in the spring 2015 Ranger course assessment,” Lt. Col. Ben Garrett, an Army spokesman said in a statement.

According to Garrett, the assessment is scheduled to begin on April 20. The course has approximately 60 women scheduled to participate and those who meet the standards and graduate from the course will be awarded the prestigious Ranger tab.