75th Ranger Regiment to welcome first female soldier in spring

A U.S. Army Ranger with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
A U.S. Army Ranger with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

In a first for the U.S. military, a female soldier is expected to join the Army’s select 75th Ranger Regiment this spring, service officials announced recently. Her acceptance is the start of integrating women into the regiment’s Special Operations forces.

Her identity and rank was withheld by the Army. In December, she became the first female soldier to pass the service’s Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP), which is held at Fort Benning, Ga., and structured to identify soldiers who fail to meet the Ranger regiment’s extreme demands and missions.

She’s one of three women who attended a three-week rendition of the course known as RASP 2 that was founded for troops who are staff sergeants and above. Training includes special tactics, equipment, and missions that make the regiment exceptional, according to the service.

The other model of RASP is two months long, intended for lower-ranking enlisted soldiers, teaching battlefield skills, small-unit tactics and medical treatment.

Throughout the course, all applicants will be vetted to ensure that only the best soldiers are chosen for service, according to an Army recruiting website. All candidates must meet the course requirements regardless of the course material.

Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, said the woman will join the regiment, prized as the Army’s leading light-infantry raid force, after finishing her assignment with her current unit.

Women have served earlier in units that were considered ‘attached’ to Ranger missions, most notably in Cultural Support Teams sent to Afghanistan.

However, no woman has ever been considered a regiment member, and no women have yet graduated from induction courses for other ground Special Forces Operations forces, the Navy SEALs and the Raiders of Marine Corps Special Operations Command, for example.

The new assignment occurs more than a year following the opening of all combat jobs to women by outgoing Defence Secretary Ashton B. Carter provided they can meet the criteria to hold the positions.

That happened after three women graduated from the Army’s demanding Ranger School at Fort Benning two years ago, a development often cited by advocates for complete gender integration before Carter’s decision, The Washington Post reported.

Completing Ranger School is not a requisite to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, but is considered to be a leadership school for attending service members and often includes students who have no desire to join the regiment.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE