She has been in Ranger School since April, slogging her way through the famously punishing course.

But for the final female participant in the Army's gender-integrated assessment of Ranger School, her journey is not yet over.

Army officials announced Tuesday that she will not graduate Friday alongside 140 male classmates. Instead, the soldier and 20 male students will recycle the Swamp Phase, Ranger School's third and final phase, beginning Sept. 26.

The female soldier, who has not publicly been named by the Army, has been at Camp Rudder, Florida, since Aug. 29, after successfully completing Ranger School's Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, Georgia. This latest recycle is the fourth time she has been sent back to reattempt one of Ranger School's three phases.

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver on Aug. 21 became the first women to earn the distinctive black and gold tab when they graduated from Ranger School.

The woman who's still a Ranger student went through much of the grueling course with Griest and Haver until she was required to recycle – or try for a second time – the Mountain Phase.

The women are part of the Army's gender-integrated assessment of Ranger School. In all, 19 women started Ranger School in April. Griest, Haver and the third woman were the only ones who remained.

The assessment has drawn a high level of scrutiny, with many questioning whether the Army is lowering its standards for the elite school, which until now has been open only to men, while many others have cheered on the female students.

Army officials have long insisted that the standards have not been changed in any way.

The Army on Sept. 2 announced that Ranger School is now open to all qualified soldiers regardless of gender.

"We must ensure that this training opportunity is available to all soldiers who 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," Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said: "The Army's number one priority is combat readiness, and leader development is a function of combat readiness. Giving every qualified soldier the opportunity to attend the Ranger Course, the Army's premier small unit leadership school, ensures we are maintaining our combat readiness today, tomorrow and for future generations."

The prerequisites for students attending Ranger School remain in effect, including the standards of medical fitness, the Army said in its announcement.

Nineteen female and 381 male soldiers started Ranger School on April 20, the start of the Army's first integrated assessment of the course.

Eight of the women made it through RAP week, or the Ranger Assessment Phase.

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, Georgia.

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.

In the end, Griest and Haver completed Ranger School after three tries at the Darby Phase and one attempt each at the Mountain and Swamp Phases.

This third woman so far has completed three attempts at the Darby Phase, two at the Mountain Phase, and one at the Swamp Phase.

Ranger School's Swamp Phase is located in the coastal swamp environment near Valparaiso, Florida, according to the Army. It consists of two jumps for airborne qualified personnel, four days of waterborne operations, small boat movements and stream crossings, and a ten day field training exercise with student led patrols.

What remains to be seen is whether the Army will open its infantry, armor and special operations ranks to women.

That decision isn't expected until the end of the year.

The Army has already opened its combat engineer and field artillery military occupational specialties to women.

Ranger School is the Army's premier combat leadership course, teaching students how to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress to lead soldiers in small-unit combat operations. It is separate from the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Soldiers who have earned Ranger Tabs, male or female, are not automatically part of the regiment, which has its own requirements and assessment process.

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.

In Other News
Load More