Two female U.S. soldiers will become the first women to graduate from the Army’s elite Ranger School, a physically and mentally demanding training course that prepares a select group of soldiers to lead their comrades into combat.
The two women will stand alongside 94 of their male colleagues Friday when they are recognized for successfully completing the 62-day course at a ceremony in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Despite graduating from Ranger School, the women will not be allowed to apply for the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Army's elite special operations unit.
The U.S. military is currently considering plans to end the longstanding ban on women serving in combat roles, with final decisions coming later this year.
Army Secretary John McHugh congratulated the newest class of Ranger School graduates in a statement, saying, "This course has proven that every solider, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential."
The duo were among 19 women and 381 men who first entered the school in April.
According to the Pentagon, the students are forced to operate on minimal food and sleep as they learn how to operate in three different environments.
They must be able to pass a grueling physical fitness test that includes repetitive calisthenics, parachute jumps, and long road marches by foot while carrying a full backpack of combat equipment.