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Females At Ranger School Get Third Try For The Darby Phase

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Three of the eight women who signed up for Ranger School at Fort Benning two months ago are preparing to retake the Darby Phase of the assessment for the third time, Army Times reports.

On the first attempt, all eight women failed Darby and joined 101 other male students in retaking the phase. When the women failed Darby for a second time, the Army gave them the option to start the entire course over from day one.

Five women dropped out, and three stayed. Darby takes around two weeks, and any personnel who pass will move on to Camp Merrill for the mountain phase. There, students have to survive mountaineering training for four days while under enormous mental stress. The last part of the course ends up at Camp Rudder in Florida, where students learn to face reptiles and discern the difference between types of snakes. They also learn stream crossing and small boat operations.

This is the first time Ranger School has opened to women as part of the Pentagon’s effort to fully integrate all combat roles. While originally created as a one-time effort, Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno hinted that the Army may run the pilot study multiple times.

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said that because the Army first launched the study by claiming it would occur just once, it should remain that way. Donnelly further added that the project comes off more like an equal opportunity effort than a genuine attempt to see if opening combat positions to women will improve the military.

For this time around, women who pass Ranger School will receive the Ranger Tab, but will not be able to join the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Many of the eight women dropped during earlier attempts at the Darby Phase were completely shocked and frustrated that they didn’t pass, with one anonymous source telling The Washington Post that no Ranger Instructor “wants to be the first one to pass a woman.”

But according to Brig. Gen. James E. Rainey, the commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, the idea of a conspiracy against women is a completely inaccurate charge.

“The women did worse than men at patrolling,” he said. “That’s a fact.”

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