By Michael Muskal
Los Angeles Times.
About 60 women will be allowed to take the next Army Ranger course assessment, giving female soldiers their first opportunity in the all-male area of special operations forces — even though they will not become members of the regiment and will not serve as Rangers in combat.
Under current, still evolving military policy, only men can serve as part of the 75th Ranger Regiment — the special operations forces unit based at Ft. Benning, Ga. However, women who graduate from the course, set to begin in April, will be allowed to wear the vaunted tab of Army Ranger.
“Secretary of the Army John McHugh approved the participation of both men and women in the spring 2015 Ranger course assessment,” the Pentagon announced Thursday. “The course has approximately 60 women scheduled to participate. Those who meet the standards and graduate from the course will receive a certificate and be awarded the Ranger tab.”
Though it is somewhat of an experiment, the course is considered an important step as the U.S. military moves to combine men and women into combat units. The Pentagon lifted its ban on women in combat in 2012 but gave the military services time to integrate.
By January 2016, the military must open all combat jobs to women or seek an exception. It remains uncertain what the military will do with some infantry units, especially those with elite teams such as the Rangers.
“This is a very exciting development because it is the first time women have breached the walls of this all-male elite training course,” said Ariela Migdal, senior staff attorney for the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s great that they are being let in at all, but the next question is, will they be allowed to join?”