After the completion of a pilot program in which the first two female Army officers graduated from the prestigious and physically grueling Ranger School, the Army announced today that Ranger School will now be officially open to all qualified women.
This announcement follows Secretary of the Army Ash Carter’s desire to allow “the largest population of qualified people who can meet the standards” to compete for and earn a place in the Army’s most prestigious and challenging schools and units.
While the gates to Ranger School are now open, some units and career fields remain closed to women pending a review of policies and requirements expected to be completed in early 2016. Elite Special Operations units, including the Army’s Ranger Regiment and the Navy’s SEALs, are still closed to women. But that might be about to change.
The Navy recently announced that the SEAL training program, known as BUD/S, will accept women, and Special Forces is expected to allow women to compete in SFAS, possibly as soon as this October. The Marine Corps is also under pressure to incorporate women into their infantry units, although so far it’s been difficult to find women who can meet the current standards. And there lies the rub.
Many of those who oppose opening direct-combat assignments to women base their arguments what they see as evidence of lesser capability of females in general to meet the high physical demands of direct-combat job specialties and the requirements of some Special Operations units. But despite these reservations, it appears likely that all military specialties and all military units will be open to women in the very near future.