Video: Women Complete Week 1 of Ranger School

"U.S. Army Soldiers participate in close arm combatives during the Ranger Course on Ft. Benning, GA., April 20, 2015. Soldiers attend Ranger school to learn additional leadership and small unit technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat stimulated environment. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen/Released Pending Review)"

U.S. Army officials announced today that eight out of 16 female soldiers who started the first co-ed class of Ranger School have made it through the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week.

Only 57 more days to go. Check out the story here.

Whether you like this effort or not, these females deserve a lot of credit for taking on this challenge. There are a whole lot of people out there who want to see them fail. They may not make it, but at least they have had the guts to try.

The Army released a video of the first week. Check out it.

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Matthew Cox
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  • Vincent

    Good for them. Just meet the standard.

    • Carl

      And don’t lower the standards in the future if, in the opinion of Congress or DoD, not enough women actually pass this or any other combat arms course.

      • Vincent

        There you go. I believe that is everyone’s biggest fear about this subject. The inept decision making ability of our current political leadership in every branch of government.

    • I agree about the standard but as I delve in this subject I’m shocked at how much standards have changed in Ranger School.


      First day PT test was your typical Army PT test but judged to a very high standard (e.g. lock your arms on the extension part of the pushup, break the horizontal plane with the tricep portion of your arm) with a minimum 70 pt score on the male 17-21 scale. There was also a requirement to run two miles at an under 7:30 pace. The two mile run seems to have gone away and replaced with a five mile (at 8 min pace) run. Is the current run done as a unit run, in the dark, without watches and with an induced accordion effect to disorient and stress the student?

      The first 12 mile road march was done with rucks in excess of 70 lbs. Today they are 45 lbs.

      At various times recycling portions of the course were highly controlled to nonexistent. There was a time where you were “peered” out of the course, or let go for failing enough patrols, not recycled. A couple of “spot reports” (like falling asleep on patrol) had you recycled if not outright kicked out of the course. Go “dumpster diving” for extra food and it was automatic expulsion.

      Signing a “Lack of Motivation” statement was the only way one could leave the course after the first week other than a medical or failure to meet a standard event. (FWIW, that LOM had career ending ramifications if you were an officer and you were never getting another chance at Ranger School for enlisted). Do LOM’s even exist anymore? Today after the first week 75% of students pass as long as they don’t quit. Do Ranger students still get spot reports? Do they matter? What standards if violated get you cut from the course?

      My point is, yes lets maintain standards but I’m afraid the standards may have been loosened quite a bit way before this initiative ever came about…

      • Common Sense

        I have not heard of your examples changing at all. Pers from my unit that went last year reported the same standards you reference when we compared stories (my stories were years older).

        As far as the 5 mile, it was (at least the last I heard) held in the dark, the only pass/fail marker being an RI pace man in the back- fall behind him and you know you are done, but with hundreds running at once it is designed to be confusing.

        I was told long ago that 1/3 would make it straight through, 1/3 would recycle at least once, and 1/3 would never make it. Understand as well that passes are tracked by the course they START with. Even if a candidate recycles 3 times, if they pass they will still end up being counted toward their original course number. With that math- around 75% doesn’t seem out of the ballpark.

        The above info came both from both a briefing I had, and a retired soldier who was an RI through the 60s and 70s (not sure exactly when).

        Speaking to RIs later on, I was told that some of the smoking had changed or been eased up- but the actual GO requirements for graded patrols have gotten harder to achieve. Is it the right way? I don’t know, but I was told by RIs that it evens out in the end.

        • Standards have changed (though I don’t attribute that to women). If you haven’t heard they have changed maybe you are looking at a smaller time frame? How long has the average RI been in the Army? There was a time when pullups were mandatory in airborne school. We don’t require them anymore but the requirement to steer a chute in an emergency hasn’t gone away. We just accept the increased risk.

          There was a two mile run test given the first day. The five mile run happened on the last day of the “city” phase and was a unit run. Currently there is no two mile run test given the first day.

          Between the first day and the five mile run at the end of the week, early morning daily runs were conducted ranging from 2 – 3.5 miles. Students didn’t know how far the run was going to be that morning (inducing uncertainty) and an accordion effect was purposely inflicted. If you fell farther than an arm’s distance from the man in front of you, you moved to the back of the formation. Do it a second time and you were put on the truck as a fallout. Fall out of two runs and you were cut from the course.

          The first road march was done with a 70lb ruck and unit equipment like the medium machinegun. Today’s ruck is 45lbs.

          Today’s Ranger students are not cut from the course if they fail patrols, the knot test or are peered. They recycle. That’s a big difference. Graded patrols may be harder to pass but if one is just recycled for failing one can eventually get a “go”. That’s a far cry from how the course was run in the past.

          • Common Sense


            The RIs I was referencing did the course in the 90s.

            Nobody was dropped on their first peer failure when I was there. The first peers failure was a recycle, the second was a “day one” (not Darby, but starting right from the first event as though they had just arrived), and the third peers failure was a drop.

            This makes sense to me, I don’t see the sense in dropping someone right off- it’s worth giving them a chance to sort themself out. There were good students who passed with me after having recycled for peers.

            Were candidates not recycled at all previously? If you can only be dropped for a failure, it seems like a waste of plenty of time and money, when a second chance at a phase could allow someone time to learn- especially after spending time in the gulag on recycle status.

            The light ruck sounds off for sure, there was no 45lbs weight as far as I remember- it was certainly more.

            We didn’t have time for early morning runs- but there was a 5 mile on day one during the RPFT. It makes more sense than a 2 mile, as many that can’t do 5 could potentially gut it out for 2 and endurance is more important.

            I thought the pullups were replaced by a bent arm hang. Does that not better reflect hanging from the risers of a static line canopy?

            I’ve worked with soldiers from Armies all over the Western world, and most have made the complaint of dropping PT standards, very troubling.

          • From around ’84 – ’87 there was a very strict recycle policy. It loosened up in ’87. There were even more drastic changes when a bunch of Rangers died in the early 90’s.

            During that period there were morning smoke sessions and morning runs.

            People were routinely dropped for failing the knot test during mountain, you got one retest.

            Flex hang doesn’t really do anything for you on a jump. A dead man can hang in one’s harness. You have to pull yourself and everything you are carrying and sometimes climb up a riser to the suspension lines to make a radical shift. Comes in handy during a mass tactical when the air is full of chutes. The standard used to be 5 pull ups with the women having a lower standard. Now its optional for everyone and the numbers look the same as for how many folks pass the course…

          • Common Sense

            The comment system is not working for me right now.

      • Riceball

        I think that if there indeed has been a loosening of standards it’s because of the pressures of the ongoing War on Terrorism and the need or demand for more special operations forces. Because of that I think that the various branches of the military may be under pressure to push out more spec-ops grads and in order to that they have to lower their standards. I recall reading that Special Forces has, in order to put out more SF troops, created some sort of fast track system for new recruits (into the Army) that allows them to get into SF school faster either by getting them to Sgt. faster or dropping the requirement to Cpl. or something like that. I think that the Navy has done something similar with the SEALs as well, reducing the amount of time needed in service before being allowed to try out for BUDS. I think that Chris Kyle may have been part of that program, as I recall he never spent a day in the regular Navy, after graduating from boot camp he went to MOS school, and from there to BUDS and never once actually practiced his MOS.

        • I don’t disagree with your principal point. The war on terror has caused the system to take some shortcuts.

          That said, I have two related but different insights.

          First. from my over two decades of service I have seen the demands of throughput often drive standards.. The simple and inescapable truth is to create any large organization systems, bureaucracies and programs have to be established to build and sustain those organizations. Sometimes shortages in resources e.g. time, money etc. force shortcuts to be taken. Other times leaders make self serving decisions or bend to outside stimuli. E.G. Basic recruiting standards did dip for a while in the Army that was providing close to 70% of the combat power and with the longest deployments of any branch. There were few other choices. In an effort to never have Ranger students die in the swamp as they did in ’95 standards were changed and relaxed. Some were good like the system in place to check water temperature. Others involving rest or time allowed to be immersed undoubtedly made the course easier.

          Second, the last decade of operating from fixed facilities & FOB’s, fighting an enemy we often numerically, technologically and firepower wise have outmatched has had a widespread deleterious impact on our ground forces ability to wage other kinds of conflict. Both the Army and Marines are working hard to regain old skills including operating in the field for extended periods away from a fixed base. Some of those bad habits have creeped into Ranger school.

          Both of the above issues have nothing to do with women serving in combat arms except that what we think of as combat from the last decade does not define all that is expected from our combat arms formations and many have forgotten that.

  • Roger

    Since when is there gum chewing in RANGER school? Look at the candidate about 10 seconds from end of video. She is second from the left side of screen.

    • Common Sense

      It’s been around for decades. No caffeine, no tobacco, but sticks of gum are allowed and counted per phase.

  • kaos-1

    I really, really wish the media would learn the difference between “ranger school” and the “ranger batts”. Ranger school is nothing but a leadership course with a tab.

  • So good to see women in action, looking good girls!

  • Tom Smith

    I’m glad to see women in Ranger School. As long as they meet the standards set by school, they should pass and get the tab. When I went through in 1969 (Class 5-70) we lost about a third of the class in the first week. The casualties were a combination of physical fitness, injuries (mostly foot problems) and lack of motivation. The swimming test washed a bunch out.

    I went through Ranger School before the first batt was formed, so I can’t comment on whether they belong there or not. My inclination is that if they can meet the standards and perform, why not?

    As far as women in the Army, I’ve served with a number of outstanding female soldiers, and a few slackers. I’m happy to say that the slackers didn’t make it very far, just like the male slackers. Can we please get off the gender kick and move forward. The Israelis have had women in their services for years, and if it works for them, it will work for us.

    Oh, and for those that think Ranger School is (was) just a leadership school with a tab, yes BUT! It was and is a serious rite of passage. My class lost over 75% of the folks that started.

  • Eric B.

    ‘Bout time this happened. We need women Rangers for special mission situations and to go on to Delta Force where they will definitely have special missions best handled by women. Who would ever suspect a female would be a D-Force operator?

    • seans

      Uh women have been in the SMUs for decades. And those women will be the first to tell you that they shouldn’t be in ground combat