After three tries, the three women remaining in the Army's gender-integrated assessment of Ranger School have successfully completed the Darby Phase, officials said Friday.
The women, along with 158 male classmates, will be moving on to the Mountain Phase Saturday in Dahlonega, Georgia.
A total of 362 men and three women started the two-month Ranger School June 21 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Fifteen of those students did not successfully complete the Darby Phase and will be dropped from the course, officials said.
The women had attempted the Darby Phase twice before. They were offered Day One Recycles after their second failed attempt.
On average, about 45 percent of Ranger School students will graduate from the grueling course.
"I had the opportunity to observe this class during their training and was especially impressed by the professionalism and extreme competence of the Ranger instructors," said Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, in a statement. "Without a doubt, Ranger School is the most physically and mentally demanding course in the U.S. Army. I have complete admiration for the soldiers, other services and partner nations who volunteer to attend and work to earn their Ranger tab."
The women in the course are part of a one-time, integrated assessment of the storied school. The assessment is part of a wider effort to determine whether and how to open combat arms jobs to women, and it is a first for Ranger School, which until now has been open only to men.
Nineteen female and 381 male soldiers started Ranger School on April 20. Eight of the women made it through the first four days, also known as the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week.
Three female soldiers have cleared the Darby phase of Ranger School.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Paul Sale/Army
None of the eight women made it past the Darby Phase on the first try and were recycled, along with 101 of their male classmates, on May 8.
After the second attempt at the Darby Phase, three female and two male students on May 29 were given the option of a Day One Recycle, which is a normal course procedure that's used when students struggle with one aspect of the course and excel at others, said officials at Fort Benning.
The two male students declined to recycle, officials said.
The remaining five women returned to their units and were not recycled again. A total of 29 students were dropped from the course for failing to meet the standards of the Darby Phase.
These students did not meet the standard for a number of reasons, including leading patrols, poor peer evaluations, too many negative spot reports, or a combination of all three.
Ranger School students who make it through RAP week move on to the Darby Phase, which is 15 days of intensive squad training and operations in a field environment at Fort Benning.
The 20-day Mountain Phase, the second of Ranger School's three phases, takes place at Camp Frank D. Merrill near Dahlonega, according to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade website.
Students receive instruction on military mountaineering tasks, mobility training, as well as techniques for employing a platoon for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment, according to the website. This includes learning about knots, belays, anchor points, rope management and the basics of climbing and rappelling. The students also learn how to operate in the mountains, including how to move personnel, equipment and simulated casualties across mountainous and restrictive terrain.
"The students of this class, just as all other Ranger classes, have shown strength and determination to persevere and complete the first phase of this rigorous course in the heat of the Georgia summer," said Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, in a statement. "I'm confident that they are trained and ready to tackle the Mountain Phase of Ranger School."
Students who successfully complete the Mountain Phase move on the Swamp Phase of the course at Camp Rudder, Florida.
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.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.