The Ranger School, established in 1952, is a grueling (and often sleepless) two-month course meant to determine those soldiers possessing the key abilities needed to become a part of the Army’s combat leadership elite. The Pentagon describes Ranger School as a premier course “teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead soldiers during small unit combat operations.” Following an announcement earlier this year that the course would be made available to potential female Rangers on a trial basis, two women will make history on Friday as the program’s first female graduates.
“This course has proven that every soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential,” Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh proclaimed in a statement announcing the historic graduation. However, the future for the two female graduates is currently uncertain. While their fellow male graduates are allowed to apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, the two unidentified female graduates currently have no such opportunity, further proof that progress in true equality still has much further to go in the (hopefully very near) future.
In fact, by 2016, the Pentagon has ordered that women must be able to participate in all combat units. “There is an understanding that doing this right takes a period time,” Juliet Beyler, director of enlisted personnel management, said following the Pentagon’s initial announcement in 2013.