Nineteen women became the first to attend the Army's elite Ranger School in late April, 16 of them made it through the first day, eight were allowed to "recycle" through the program, and zero will be going on to the next mountain stage of training, reports the Army Times, though three have been invited to start the next Ranger School from scratch in three weeks. The failure rate—by comparison, a total of 195 out of 381 male soldiers will move on—has some muttering about revisiting Ranger standards to make sure they're gender-neutral. The Christian Science Monitor talks to some Rangers who think the deck is stacked, with one saying "women will always fight to meet the male standard, even if it's arbitrary and kind of stupid."
At issue are physical standards that some say are outdated as military technology advances, as well as whether incorporating women into the Army's upper echelons could actually strengthen leadership. Ranger School is so physically rigorous that "my feet didn't feel the same for literally two years," says one Ranger, "but I can't honestly say I learned much" in terms of leadership. Not so fast, says Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno: "We've set standards for Ranger School for a very long time. I'm adamant about maintaining that." But though allowing women in Ranger School was supposed to be a one-off, "we'll probably run a couple more pilots," Odierno says. "It's been a real success for us, and we'll see how it goes from there." (Read more Army Rangers stories.)