The Army has reported that two women have made military history after becoming the first female soldiers to pass the U.S. Army’s intense Ranger Course.
The two, along with 94 men, passed the 62-day leadership course, which teaches students how to handle fatigue, hunger, and stress during combat operations.
In April, 19 women and 381 men began the first Army Ranger school that included women. The course, based at Fort Benning, Georgia, includes training in woodlands, mountainous terrain and Florida swampland.
Army Rangers are rapidly deployable troops trained for mountain, desert and swamp terrain and often go after special operations targets.
The course is based on physical fitness tests, some of which consist of 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a five mile run in 40 minutes, and six chin-ups, and many more.
A graduation ceremony will be held at Fort Benning on Friday. The U.S. military began a process two years ago to open thousands of frontline combat jobs to women. The service branches have been developing gender-neutral requirements for all jobs in the military and evaluating whether to recommend that any remain closed to women.
The Army had faced resistance to allowing women to serve in combat units, but since such experience is a factor in promotions and job advancement in the military, women have had greater difficulty than men in moving up to the top ranks, officials have said.
About 90 percent of senior Army infantry officers qualified as Rangers, which should allow women graduates to better compete with their male counterparts.
Nearly 12 percent of U.S. forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan were women. They represented about 2 percent of U.S. military deaths in those wars.