Women and Ranger School Standards

"U.S. Army Soldiers participate in waterborne operations training during the Ranger Course on Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fl., August 04, 2015. Soldiers attend the Ranger Course to learn additional leadership and small unit technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat simulated environment, (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric Hurtado/ Released)"

Lots of commenters to stories on Military.com and this blog — and, indeed, many other sites — have questioned whether the Army Ranger School has lowered its standards to accommodate women.

Richard Oppel, a reporter for The New York Times who was invited to attend the historically all-male infantry training course’s third and final leg, known as “swamp phase,” at Camp Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, touched on this in a recent article.

In it, he interviewed Col. David Fivecoat, the commander of the Army’s Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, who had this to say about the issue of standards and the two female officers currently soldiering their way through the course:

The female students are competing on the same terms as the 160 men still in their class: No flexed-arm-hangs instead of pull-ups. No push-ups from the knees. The same cutoff times (40 minutes for a five-mile run, for example) and the same number of repetitions in the initial physical assessment (49 push-ups, 59 situps, six chin-ups).

While the women, both of whom are West Point graduates, have performed well on fitness tests, hikes and even peer assessments, the one area they’ve struggled — like their male counterparts — has been patrols, where they play the part of squad or platoon leader, according to the article.

And while the women have taken longer than many men to reach the final phase, many male students have to redo, or recycle, parts of the course, the article states.

To be sure, some accommodations have made for the women, but they seem minor and entirely fair: They’re allowed to take prescription birth control, they rotate shower and latrine times with the men, and they can use ponchos as curtains when dressing, it states.

The female officers still have two weeks to go before graduating with their peers on Aug. 21, but the odds are in their favor: Roughly three-quarters of the students who make it this far end up passing the course, it states.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • guest

    Why do they need prescription birth control while in Ranger School?. Would they be rotating shower and latrine times and using poncho screens when out on ops or under fire? What happened to “train as you fight”, including pointing loaded machine guns at your buddies chest with your finger near the trigger, ie. muzzle awareness and gun safety. Instead of interviewing the head honcho, maybe the reporter from the NYT should have accompanied the students to be sure the standards were the same.

    • Lost 2

      Yet even the Col. states that the biggest problem they have at Eglin is patrol…the TRUE measure of a Ranger. The fact that you would follow the lowest common denominator into a hot LZ tells me your claims of being a Ranger are probably false.

      ACo 1/75INF 88-03

      • MONTI

        There is always a lowest common denominator.

    • ZNT

      To stop that time of the month.

    • CWD


    • adrestia

      That looks to be a male with the SAW and the picture can be deceiving depending on depth perception caused by whatever f stop used to take the photo. To me, the muzzle looks to be pointing toward but to the left side of the in water soldier’s left arm, so muzzle is clear.

    • Miles

      Full time on oral birth control stops the menstrual period.
      This is a noted side effect and was first used during GW1.
      Women were given several months worth of the pill and told to not take the ‘blanks’.

  • Robert Dunbar

    I also saw that with the Machine gun ???? I was a Marine in the early 60s.On a work detail I was in charge off.I had a number off female marines come in on a 2/12 ton truck,Half had combat booths on and the others had on sneakers.I asked the nco of the females !! Whats up with the sneakers and she tells me that they r on light duty because its that time of the month and can’t lift or do anything too physical.I asked her to send them back to mainside and leave the others here.Not fare to my other Marines.

    • C Diedrich

      That was the 60’s when they thought that a period made a woman delicate. So past that.

      • Will

        Are you so sure?

  • Bill K

    Ummm, I’m a Nam War combat vet who was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Vietnam Rangers doing Long_Range_Recon_Patrols (LRRPs) into North Vietnam, the “Fish_hook” out of Bon Son, Quang Tri Province, RVN for 3 13-month Combat Tours. We’d do 4-5 day LRRP missions into North Vietnam with 5-6 Rangers inserted by choppers to recon/ambush NVA & Viet Cong guerrilla troops then be extracted back to HQ Company in Bon Son. Our outfit never had a female Vietnam Ranger in 1968-1971 I was in-country, but the NVA had some real good ones as snipers who KIAed/tortured our captured troops. One was called “Apache” who KIAed 20-30 of our troops & commanded an NVA platoon which protected her…so NVA female sniper-operatives were very effective in the Nam War & I wonder if our female Army “Rangers” can also equal them in real jungle combat? BTW, USMC Sniper_great Gunny_Sgt Carlos Hathcock finally whacket-out the female NVA sniper name “Apache” on his final tour in Nam mano_a_mano…

    • slim

      I was with the Herd during that time and we also were looking for a white guy and a blk guy who had defected to the nva. WE were told to kill on site.however we never saw them. During this time we did blow a few bushes and half of them were women on point..One does not have someone on point thats not experienced..They were tough and ruthless.WE were better.

    • Firstdance2000

      Familiar with Apache and who killed her! Being a sniper vs. infantry seems doesn’t seem to bear out anything. Russians had them in WWII. Her torture was after the men secured the soldier. She bears no more merit than any other protected asset in my opinion.

    • Hondo

      Did you “censor” Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock’s name?

      Or did military.com?

      THAT is his name… Hathcock!

      I had the pleasure of meeting him twice.

      As to the “Salt and Pepper” duo of deserters working with VC / NVA, during my hayday with WestPac, Eye Corps, it was “The Gospel”.

      Yet I understand that years later when Vietnam opened military records and allowed interviews that this story was fully discounted.


      • Hondo

        Yep….. same with Captain Meadows.

  • JohnD

    At last, a program that will not buckle,to,PC changes except allowing women in! This totally legitimizes the females actions in this tough school! Women can do the jobs of men if they want to make the personal sacrifices and push themselves! There is no,crying in Ranger School! If they can hang great! A mortar round does not have separate weights for men vs women!

    • patman

      These women have been recycled multiple times due to failure. Men would never have been given so many chances. Don’t believe this P.C. story

      • Speiss

        That is correct. They also received 6 months prep time (original 19). I know when I went through in class 14-81, we graduated half the class, and half of them were recycles. I understand there is one left and she is a major (west point to boot). I know when I went through we had two foreign officers who were soup sandwiches, but they were pushed through. I bet that major already has some skinny on the troops in her training platoon, RIs, and others if she fails. Hope nothing going on behind that poncho liner curtain during patrol base operations with the pill and all. Well I do know she will not go to the Ranger Bn (A totally different animal). She will probably make it and will shove it down peoples throats just like any careerist west point officer (they will do anything to get through that school) Rangers lead the way.

  • JohnD

    In Iraq we issued camping funnels to allow women to urinate standing up! Dropping trousers and squatting isnt feasible in some situations! Hanging a poncho,up for a bit of privacy isn’t too much to,ask! As long as they don’t want a MEDEVAC for a period!

    • Will

      Everyone wants a bit of privacy? Why do you think a female should get special treatment?

  • Semper Fi

    Go Army

    • Hondo


      Semper Fi!

  • David Hadley

    You know what exactly what will happen once everything settles down, they will get favors left and right….been there and seen that.. Once they give the big guy at the top a smile and a bat of the eyes…its all over as far as everything being equal ,,,,You know I’m right and you can’t say anything otherwise and the guys that are equal to her have to just shut up and take it.

    • Marcello

      if all it takes to make the big guy at the top topple is a smile and a bat of the eyes then the issue is with him, not with the women that went through training.

  • Steve Perry

    I really don’t see what the big deal is. Ranger School is a leadership course. Hence, why they’re having difficulty with Patrols…like the young inexperienced male students do. I was average when it came to physical fitness and went through Ranger School at the age of 35 without recycling (True Blue). I excelled in Patrols because of my previous experience and physically it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. It’s more of a mental thing. However, that doesn’t mean I could make it into the Ranger Regiment. Same goes for these women. Just because they graduate from this leadership course, doesn’t mean they have what it takes to become a real Ranger in the Ranger Regiment.

    • Will

      Well let’s not let reality confuse the facts on the ground. They will see that getting into Infantry, Artillery and all of those other physically draining units, isn’t just a 12 week course and it’s over.

    • Rob

      I’m not really sure what your point is. They’re not trying to get into a Ranger battalion. You know as well as I do that when you have a tab, it automatically elevates you in the eyes of other soldiers, including your superiors and the board when it comes time for promotions. The idea is for women to have that same opportunity for advancement.

    • Harry

      Well said. Graduating school is one thing being a member of the 75th Ranger( being a cherry in that unit… hardcore) that is another thing.

  • GTX

    Latrines at the camp used to be a hole in the ground and no privacy, you just went in front of everyone. As soon as they started bringing women into training, latrines were setup to provide privacy. Latrines will not be setup in combat, so why in their training? Because the women involved are doing it for their resume, to earn the tab, not to wear the scroll, to make it their way of life. Most officers taking this training are only resume builders, male or female. “Rangers Lead The Way” applies only to those who wear the scroll, the real fighters. I do not believe any of these women are pursuing this a way of honor, only for promotion, like most officers.

    • Rob

      And…what’s your point? Women should have to bear a disadvantage compared to men in the world of promotions because they’re never given the opportunity to earn a Ranger tab which automatically elevates you in the eyes of your superiors and the board? Yeah man, let’s just keep things as they are, inbred male PT studs can go as far as they want!

      • aethon007

        The system isn’t broken. And so far in 100% of cases in the army where women were integrated, the standards have changed to provide females with a bit of privilege. Additionally, this will now become part of the quota system the military reports out on formally (yes they do!), which looks at how many of each demographic is represented in each area, for example now…will be combat/ Rangers. Don’t think it will happen? Little research on DACOWITZ will tell you a bit more about the aggressive special interest groups pushing ONLY for the interests of women.

        This is not the fight you think it is. It is not about equality. Inequality is either at admissions (as it is now with male only) or once they are in (double standards). But it will never be equal…not this profession.

  • Whatever

    The military is not the place for social experiments. We’ve become so obsessed with equality and being pc that we have lost our common sense. The military is there to protect and win wars by killing the enemy by any means necessary, not a training ground for equal rights. I’m sure women could pass the Ranger course but accommodations will always be needed for them through either hygiene or privacy. When you’re downrange and out at a COP for 30 – 60 days at a time without any privacy or hygiene capabilities then what? I also don’t see a big push for women to register for selective service. Men and women still have different PT and body weight standards in the military but yet we are all equal. Men are put on more physically demanding details in the military while women are put on the much easier details. But we’re all equal right? I love how people who have never been in the military write about how equal some of these things are. You want to learn just how “equal” things are in the military? Sign up and see for yourself. You will learn real quick.

    • Guest

      “The military is not the place for social experiments. …not a training ground for equal rights. ”

      Right. And I’d bet you’d like a segregated military like in WWII. /Sarcasm off

      • crackedlenses

        No comparison. Black men are are still men; women are very different physically and biologically.

        • aethon007

          Yes…this is a funny and very myopic comparison you see blast out constantly like a canned tele-response. No thought needed.

    • SF180AVW9

      Can’t agree more! When I went through Ranger school, 1980, we had some very physically demanding tasks on a daily basis. On one ambush patrol, after rushing the kill zone, the RI pointed at my Ranger buddy and said he was wounded and could not walk. I had to fireman’s carry his 210lbs plus LBE/weapon 400 meters back to the ORP. I don’t know to many females that could do that. As far as the selective service issue goes, how many parents even want to think about their little girl eligible for the draft and of note, all a female draftee would have to do to avoid combat duty/deployment would be to get pregnant. Ranger school is for small unit combat leadership training, so until these WEST POINT grads are going to actually take command of an Airborne/Ranger infantry platoon, save the school slots for men who can benefit from and utilize the training ASAP.

    • Barlow Blaine

      I agree and we saw problems back in the 80’s. This is just more political correctness. Glad to be retired and out of that mess.

  • Steve

    I went to Ranger School stareted NOV 81 and Graduated FEB 82. Since then the standards have dropped and i guess if you recycle 4 or 5 times eventually you will pass. I went through one time didnt have time to sit around and recycle my unit needed me so I planned on making it through the first time. Its all in your mind!!

    • MHillis

      Agree. Class 11-85 for me. We received far fewer calories, we had an extra phase (Desert), no NODs for night patrols, etc. all that said, I did have to redo Mountain Phase. I went through the school at 19, and had a lot to learn about leadership. Thankfully I made the final cut. If these women can truly pass the same standards as the men, then they deserve the tab. Sua Sponte.

    • Bluto

      12-81. Oh yea

  • Old Ranger

    This is a sham article, how many male class members have been interviewed about their female classmates? I keep hearing that “no accommodations” or lowering of the standards have been made…but I never knew anyone who was a double recycle in one phase. The stories will inevitably come out over the next couple of months from the male students in this class, and the Army will put a full bird colonel out front to head the issue off with the message of its just boys being boys, or that they are to stupid to have an opinion on the matter. I would bet that General Odierno gave the order that a female will pass in this class, directed a gag order on current students, and effectively put numerous NCO’s and Officers in a position where they have to toe the line or risk being labeled someone who is not a team player…or a sexist.

    • Lee Chase

      You called it exactly. I have heard a first hand account of what went on in the original class with the females-Darby Phase. The did not pass any females through Darby and the soldiers that were unlucky enough to have females in their squads for patrols had to go down with the sinking ship. They wouldn’t pass the females so they could not pass those males. And yes, they were most definitely given a gag order.

    • ranger 9-87

      I’m with a Old Ranger. Class 9-87 here. Then 1/75th. Did several LRS units, RI in Mountain phase, and retired a 1SG. Standards are always changed and then reinforced by a GEN, COL, LTC, and CSM’s. It’s a conform or get out philosophy. I chose the later after my 3rd combat tour. Someone, somewhere, said “a female will pass”. I will guarantee that Any RI that gives a female a “no-go” or major spot report is being challenged or questioned or being accused of being a Tab Protector or chauvinist.

      • Hondo

        Old Ranger….

        From an Old Corps Marine (late 60s early 70s), I agree 100%

    • Bluto

      Damn right Fat Ray said so. That sorry POG leg. Leg is a term or endearment to me as Audy M was a leg but he is a Barry boy. Watch how fast COL Fivecoat (never a Ranger himself as in Regiment) gets a star. What a sad day. Disgusting moral cowards

  • Old Ranger

    BYW, that RI sitting behind the SAW gunner in the front of the zodiac should have given him a negative spot report from sticking a barrel in the chest of a fellow Ranger student…just my opinion

    • 11b

      This is a photo, and none of us know the context. I’m not going to sit here and armchair quarterback a real RI doing real work. It’s his call.

      • Old Ranger

        Is the barrel in his chest? Is the SAW Gunner not looking or paying attention to where his muzzle is; i.e. muzzle awareness? Pretty sure the context is an unsafe act…more than likely perpetrated by a sleepy 2LT from West Point.

  • Old MP

    I guess with a blank adapter, muzzle control and safety don’t matter. If I was pushing that boat off, my next move would have been knocking that idiot into the lake.

  • karlluffel

    OK. First, Ranger school does not make them combat Rangers serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Secondly, I know people who have went thru with these women and the rumor I hear is that they whine alot more than the other Ranger students. Other Rangers would have been recycled for bad attitude. Third, these women were allowed a year long train up with personal trainers while exempt from their jobs. This is a huge difference from the advantage men get. These women should be commended for stepping up, but do not try to equate there time at Ranger school as being on an equal footing with the men. Men would have been recycled or dropped whereas these women were giving more breaks and longer train-up while exempt from there regular duty. The argument to allow them in Ranger school is valid in that Ranger school is a leadership school…not for putting people into a Ranger unit. They need to make it thru RASP for that to happen. And the 75th does not play. If they are lucky to get there, staying there is another thing. If you show signs of not carrying your weight, you will be gone. No excuses…especially whining.

    • Fred

      This is only the first step to allowing the women into the 75th Ranger Regiment. The moment you make accommodations regarding Ranger Training the next step will to accommodate those politicians who believe women should be allowed to be assigned to the Special Operations Units based on their training qualifications. Standards will have to be changed at the Ranger Regiment to make it look like they are not trying to keep the women wearing the Ranger Tab out of the Regiment. Watch and see… it won’t happen overnight but it’s coming.

    • Hondo


      I desperately hope that you are right – but fear that you are not!

      This is part of a PC effort (IMO) that started many years ago.

  • Carl

    I never went to Ranger school but why do they have latrines and showers? Aren’t they in the field all the time? Also, I assume that the women also have the same sleep and food depravation as the men?

    • Old Ranger

      They have showers and latrines between the phases, typically utilized while in cantonment during periods of instruction prior to entering their FTX. No, there are not showers offered every night…I can probably count on one hand the actual times I used a shower while at Ranger school.

  • Lance

    Face it Obama will get them threw he lowers the standard already and again going P.C. will degrade and destroy the military. Last thing we need is women distracting men on the front line little lone with rangers behind enemy lines.

    • Rob

      If you’re a man who gets distracted in a combat situation by a woman wearing a uniform that fits about as well as a trash bag, then that’s your problem, not hers. Secondly, this whole thing about men getting distracted is simply speculation on what would happen. So far there isn’t any actual evidence except for in POG units which we know is night and day compared to an infantry unit. Of the militaries that have fully integrated the genders, they’ve reported basically no problems and in fact say that the men and women work together better because there’s not such a big deal made about gender.

      • Oldjoetucker

        Rob, you are misunderstanding the distraction, its basic ingrained chivalry. In a firefight, I can tell you that your mind is on your job. The distraction comes in with the need to protect a woman that is close to you. She may be able to hold her own just fine but now you have 5 trained guys with 75% mind on the mission and 25% on her, that is the danger. If you want all female units fine but integrated I cant see any use, reason or benefit for them. Heard about the women who were captured? Holy crap. Here is another issue, pregnancy, when a female is pregnant in the military they are on light duty for 10 months (40 weeks) until they have the baby, 7 weeks off after the baby. There are programs they can get to breastfeed. Bottom line, when I was in the regular army I had a female that was off or on light duty for 18 months, I couldn’t fill her spot, the rest of the guys in the platoon had to pick up her slack. 18 months she didn’t have to do any type of CQ or other duties. Here is the kick in the nuts, if I male soldier receives an injury that will put him on light duty for 6 months a board will review him for a chapter out of the military.

  • FormerActionGuy

    Sorry no PC, Leftist President or media/propaganda outlet can spin the fact that females are not the same physically as males. Emotions, lower center of gravity and less upper body mass can’t get you on par with the boys. They will be a liability if we have a down and dirty war in the future. Remember that sorry excuse for a soldier Jessica Lynch?

    • Rob

      Emotions? Please, on my first deployment to Afghanistan we had a squad leader straight up shut down and start crying during a firefight. Either you’re cut out for it or you’re not and I know more than a handful of women who are better put together emotionally than that guy. Yet he earned the right to be called a grunt. Secondly, lower center of gravity is an advantage especially when operating at heights. Means you’re more stable.

  • hexyisakiller

    All I’ve ever said was keep the standard and don’t give them special slots at the school. If the average female cadet, enlisted or officer wants to take the assessment and get placed on the list for school according to their performance rank than let them have at it…..Just never lower the standard or give them special treatment or slots. The minute they get special slots (besides during this trial/assessment period) is the minute they will make sure they pass a % of females. There will be women who can pass but lets not get carried away thinking they will have equal pass/fail numbers to the males. The enemy doesn’t care how politically correct and open minded we are.

  • William_C1

    Considering that Obama and Co wants to allow people who are confused about their gender into the military this is the least of our worries. At least these women know that they are women.

  • hormonesamok

    So, did they start Ranger school at the best environmental time possible? Yes. Could they have started during the height of summer or winter? yes, but they were given every opportunity to succeed. Did they have to carry any of the MG’s, etc? I hope so. Anyway, good on them still for finishing. Of course no official person is going to criticize anything about the course.

  • JJMurray

    In the military the standards to do the “job” should ALWAYS be gender neutral. You either have to be able to do X, Y, and Z to do the job or you can’t do the job, period. Nothing else matters which is why these gender differences in the military are ridiculous in any job you open up to women.
    Now if you REALLY want a gender neutral military then you will get rid of the separate berthing, head, shower, etc. facilities as well. Because if you aren’t willing to do that then you recognize that there ARE differences between men and women that you should respect and all this other nonsense is just political posturing.

    • Reality

      Once the DoD lifts the ban on transgenders serving then it probably will end up that way with no separate facilities. I’ve always found it ironic that males and females have had to be bunked separately, but since the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell there is no rule that two homosexual men or women can’t bunk together in the same room. I guess heterosexuals have less self control than homosexuals? No, they just don’t want to “offend” the homosexuals. Now you can throw transgender and gender-queer people (that’s really a thing) into the mix…it’s just a lot of madness based on political correctness and lack of morality.

  • Old Guy

    What about permanent manning levels? In the Air Force only so many pilots are authorized for a squadron. If a female pilot gets pregnant she is taken off flying duty and a male pilot has to take on additional tasks to make up for the loss of a pilot! That’s real fair when deployments roll around! Will Ranger manning be increased to make up for the loss of Rangers when one of them gets pregnant?

  • Woodstock One-Niner

    EVERY Ranger earns their tab. Most of the whining “lowered standards” comments are probably coming from REMFS. They need to include the Ranger course they graduated from in their comments (Ranger 2-68).

    • Bluto

      12-81 with Regimental Service. 2-68! Awesome Ranger. You guys threw in like men. Like MEN!!

  • walkerny

    I saw on the news shorties giving COMBAT TRAINING to the US backed Syrian opposition forces. No WONDER it is a disaster, with the unit basically combat ineffective and / or deserted, after almost a year and millions spent. They must have taken one look at the non combat, non infantry qualified (but politically correct and “inclusive”) trainers we sent to do the training and bailed.

  • Pleiku37

    I agree with Woodstock One Niner!
    Old Ranger (10/68) I still keep my black beret.

  • Eric B.

    Sooner or later a few women with “gymnast” abilities and tough mental attitudes WILL make it through Ranger school with no problems. We just have to wait a while for these “GI Janes” to show up.

    I’ve trained airborne qualified female ROTC cadets in winter survival and they did a lot less sniveling than some of the males. Plus they were in outstanding physical shape and snow-shoed along with everyone else with no lagging behind the pace that I set.

  • tom

    Don’t buy it! I still have friends in the 75th and at RTB. The word put out to instructors is at least two women WILL graduate. I remember asking an RI when I graduated how come a couple of foreign students who did crappy got to graduate. I was told they pass foreign students to maintain good relations with the country they’re from. Think about that next week when TWO women graduate ranger school. By the way, it was four phases when I went and truly one meal a day but only if you did a proper re-supply.

    • Former RI

      Same I heard from the inside RI’s. Former RI.