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.