The Army is looking at allowing female soldiers to attend "a couple more" cycles of Ranger School as part of its ongoing effort to open combat arms jobs to women, the service's top officer said Thursday.
"We'll probably run a couple more pilots," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno during a breakfast meeting with reporters. "It's been a real success for us, and we'll see how it goes from there."
Nineteen female soldiers and 381 male soldiers started Ranger School April 20 — it was the first time women were allowed to attend the storied two-month school as part of what initially was a one-time, integrated assessment.
Eight women remained at the end of the first phase, or Darby Phase, but none of them were allowed to move on to the Mountain Phase. The women, along with 101 of their male classmates, were recycled and given the opportunity to attempt the Darby Phase again.
On average, about 45 percent of Ranger School students will graduate. As many as 60 percent of all Ranger School failures will occur in the first four days during the Ranger Assessment Phase, commonly known as RAP week.
On average, more than 37 percent of Ranger School graduates recycle at least one phase of the school. About two-thirds of those who complete RAP week will eventually pass the Darby phase and move on to the mountain phase, according to data on the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade website.
The Darby recycle rate is about 15 percent.
Odierno said the standards for Ranger School will not change.
"We've set standards for Ranger School for a very long time," he said. "I'm adamant about maintaining that. I do believe it's important we maintain the integrity of the Ranger tab."
The women's second iteration of the Darby Phase ends Thursday; officials are expected to provide information Friday on how the students fared.
The ongoing assessment is going well, Odierno said.
"The feedback I'm getting is these females are performing exceedingly well, physically, mentally, and the cadre is very proud of how they've done," he said.
The reason many of the female students failed the Darby Phase was patrolling, Odierno said.
"Patrolling is something you learn from experience, and they just have not had the experience of doing it," he said.
The general added he doesn't "know how it's going to turn out."
Women who successfully complete Ranger School will receive a certificate and be awarded the coveted Ranger tab. They will not, however, be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, which is separate from Ranger School.