Less than a month after two women successfully completed Army Ranger School, the U.S. Army said Wednesday that the program would be open to all genders on a permanent basis. The announcement ends an assessment period when the Army evaluated the feasibility of allowing women into the program.
“We must ensure that this training opportunity is available to all soldiers who are qualified and capable,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh in a press release. “We continue to look for ways to select, train and retain the best soldiers to meet our nation’s needs.”
The Army emphasized that rigorous physical and performance standards remain in effect for male and female rangers. The recent female graduates underwent the same grueling two-month course, replete with long hours and little sleep, as their male counterparts.
Still, the decision does not change an Army ban on women in the Ranger Regiment and other roles classified as ground combat. Those roles remain limited to men due to a long-standing rule. A 2013 Pentagon order called on the Armed Services to allow women in combat positions by 2016.