Female soldiers can soon start to apply to Ranger School, the Army's elite tactical force that trains at Fort Benning.
To make it through, women must do 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups and complete a five mile run in 40 minutes; and also complete a 12 mile march carrying 35 lbs. of combat gear, plus a weapon.
Even for male Ranger applicants the statistics against success are sobering. Only 50 percent make it, and most wash out in the first four days, that's how tough it is.
There is already heated debate among active duty military and veterans over whether women should be allowed to try.
Even if they make it, they won't be assigned to Ranger duty just yet. Combat experts say the upper body strength Rangers need will make it impossible for women to compete unless the standards are lowered. That's the real concern.
Rangers are Special Operations placed in the most dangerous, mentally and physically exhausting situations in the world.
There's no hint right now that women will get special treatment, and many women have proven to be highly competent in a variety of dangerous military roles.
But the way we fight wars and terrorists is changing fast.
US Special Forces are doing most of the heavy lifting on duty around the world with fewer personnel being asked to do more with less.
The War on Terror requires the best, strongest, and most skilled fighters in America. Letting women compete to qualify as Rangers is an experiment worth doing.
Women deserve to show us the best they can be, but it will take more than an uphill climb with a full backpack to prove they deserve to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as a Ranger.
WTVM Editorial Committee
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