Almost 40 women have volunteered to be observers/advisers at Ranger school, Army officials said Friday, the deadline to apply.

Last month, the Army put out a call for female soldiers to volunteer as students or observers/advisers at Ranger school this spring. The effort is part of an assessment to determine whether and how to open combat arms military occupational specialties to women.

Soldiers had until Friday to volunteer to be observers/advisers. Officials expect there will be a total of about 50 applications by the end of the day, said Paul Prince, an Army spokesman.

Of the 39 packets received so far, about 20 are from enlisted soldiers and 19 from officers, he said.

Female soldiers who want to attend the two-month Ranger school as students have until Dec. 1 to apply. Prince said he did not have any information on how many soldiers have applied so far.

The decision to move forward with this one-time, integrated Ranger school assessment is expected in January.

The Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, is preparing for the possibility because if the assessment moves forward, it likely will take place in the spring, and the Army will need volunteers already in place and ready to go.

If the assessment takes place, it will be a first for the storied Ranger school, which until now has been open only to men.

Officials have said the tough standards for Ranger school will not be changed.

Soldiers chosen to be observers/advisers will work alongside the all-male Ranger instructor cadre. They will serve as extra eyes and ears and as a sounding board for the RIs, but they will not evaluate or grade Ranger school students.

Female soldiers who are selected for the observers/advisers program will be assessed over an eight-day period at Fort Benning. They will be assessed on their ability to meet the physical requirements, and they also will provide a written after-action report and participate in exit interviews.

Candidates who are selected will be notified on or around Oct. 20. The assessment will take place in mid-November. Those selected to serve will be brought back in December to observe a class of all male students.