There has never been a shortage of testosterone in the military. This year, however, two women made history as the first female graduates of Army Ranger School, one of the most mentally and physically brutal military courses in the U.S.
The two women, one a captain and the other a first lieutenant, are among the 96 students who will graduate from the program on Friday in Fort Benning, Ga. President Obama is set to attend the historical ceremony.
Why is this significant?
It's actually a huge deal. Only 3 percent of all Army troops wear a Ranger tab and completing the course is critical step towards a U.S. Special Operations Unit. The Ranger School, according to the Pentagon, is "the Army's premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations."
The 62-day course began with 381 men and 19 women. Fitness tests consisted of push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, a five-mile run in 40 minutes, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march, multiple obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, parachute jumps, air assaults on helicopters and 27 days of mock combat patrols.
The students trained for two grueling months with little food or sleep, and had to work in different terrains.
What's next for them?
Women are still not permitted in all combat roles, so it is unclear what these women's future in the military will hold.
This year marked the first time the Army opened the course to women, albeit on a trial basis, and their success makes a strong argument for their inclusion in combat roles. The Pentagon is due to make a decision on women's role in combat sometime later in the year.
"This course has proven that every Soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential," Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh said in a statement.
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