The first female Army Rangers make history and inspire us completely

For the first time ever, the United States Army is graduating not one, but two, women from it’s prestigious and elite Ranger School.

The two women, whose identities haven’t been revealed yet, will graduate alongside 96 of their fellow male Rangers after a months-long test that brings them to the mental and physical brink. According to CNN the test included: “49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin-ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters, and 27 days of mock combat patrols.”

The women, reported to be “officers in their 20s and graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y,” will speak to the media on Thursday, but are getting high praise from their superiors in the meantime. 

Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement on Monday, “Each Ranger School graduate has shown the physical and mental toughness to successfully lead organizations at any level. This course has proven that every soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential. We owe soldiers the opportunity to serve successfully in any position where they are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best Soldiers to meet our nation’s needs.”

No other woman in the history of military service has worn the coveted Ranger tab, so this marks a historic day for both women and the American military. The reason for this is because until this year women were not permitted to attempt the course.

Naysayers have suggested that the female soldiers may have had easier courses or a more lax evaluation, but The Washington Post reports, “senior Army officials have insisted that is not the case, and opened Ranger School to media for a few days during each phase to underscore the point and allow Ranger instructors and others involved in their evaluation to speak.”

Although this is a major breakthrough for female service personnel, we’re not all the way there yet. Women are still not allowed to try out for the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations force that remains closed to women and has “its own separate, exhausting requirements and training” says the The Washington Post. Which means, it’s as yet unclear what the fate of these  two womens’ careers in the Army will be. 

So while today is absolutely a day to celebrate the accomplishments of these two women soldiers, it’s also a day to examine the boundaries not yet crossed and the stereotypes we still face.

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[Image via Shutterstock]