Viewpoint

Leading the way

From an editorial Wednesday in the Fayetteville Observer:

Is this the turning point, the event that takes down the military wall that has long stood (with occasional exceptions) between women and combat?

Maybe.

No question it’s a big deal that two women will graduate from Army Ranger School on Friday. It may lead to opening at least some combat jobs to women.

There were 19 women in the Ranger School class that began on April 20, along with 380 men. Two women completed the course and another has one phase to go. Typically, only 40 percent of the soldiers who start the course complete it and earn their Ranger tab.

Army officials say there were no concessions made for the female soldiers. They had to meet all the standards of the rigorous course that is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting – like combat.

The question of women in combat still isn’t settled. The Marines are running a longer-term exercise to measure the effect of the combat experience on women. That will inform Pentagon decisions about the role of women in traditionally all-male units. That will include whether women will someday serve in Ranger battalions or in Special Forces.

But no matter where the policy decisions go now, two women have succeeded in uncharted territory. That’s a big deal.

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