Apache Helicopter Pilot To Join Other Women At Army Ranger School

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Six women have passed the 2-week assessment course. That sets them up for the full 2 months of training in April which is part of an effort to determine whether women can serve in ground combat units.

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Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now more on change in the military. The Pentagon is looking at women in ground combat jobs. As part of that effort, one more woman is set to begin the Army's grueling Ranger course this spring. So far, a total of six women have passed the two-week assessment. That sets them up for the full two months of training in the mountains of Georgia and the swamps of the Florida Panhandle. Here's NPR's Tom Bowman.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Army officials say 17 women started the latest two-week assessment course at Fort Benning, Ga. And just one made it all the way through. Officials would only say she's a first lieutenant - a pilot who flies an Apache helicopter. She will join the five women who made it through earlier. Most of the women in the latest course dropped out in the first week. Some had medical issues. Others were unable to meet the tough physical requirements, including 49 push-ups. The Army says two more assessments will be held. Those women who pass will take part in the full Ranger course starting in April - the first to include both men and women.

Major General Scott Miller, who oversees the effort, says Ranger training is the toughest the Army has to offer and insisted that standards would not be lowered. Opening Ranger training to female soldiers is part of the Pentagon's plan to let women serve in ground combat jobs - infantry armor and artillery - beginning next January, unless the military services convince Pentagon leaders to keep them closed. Both the Army and the Marine Corps are going through experimental training now with women volunteers. Some 100 Marine women are set to begin live-fire training in the Mojave Desert next month. Tom Bowman, NPR News Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.