WTVM captures the first gender-integrated ranger course

WTVM captures the first gender-integrated ranger course

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - WTVM News Leader 9 has been bringing you stories all week from the latest Ranger School at Ft Benning and they are allowing women to participate for the first time.

While the inside of Ranger school isn't something that's documented on camera, a select group of news organization were invited to capture the moment since women are training for Ranger status.

We got to witness women in the Ranger course with ABC News, Christian Science Monitor and USA Today, among others networks.

Ranger Instructors didn't necessarily mind all the media attention, especially since this Ranger school is the first ever gender-integrated course.

Some may know that it takes hard work and training to become a Ranger. You have instructors yelling and observer advisors watching your every move all while trying to complete the money bars, ropes, and rocky roads of the course. Then, there's another pair of eyes the soldiers may not be aware of, standing in the background like members of the media.

"It's just like any other ranger course . Nothing's changed. There's nothing we noticed that different other than all the media here," Sgt. 1st class Gerald Nelson said.

In a rare occurrence, the U.S. Army gave the media access to Fort Benning's Camp Darby find out what's it like to train as a ranger and to witness the historic moment of women trying to earn a ranger badge.

"I think everyone understands it. Because this is a little different. I tell everyone, "Hey this is just Ranger school and for my side I want my counterparts and my non commissioned officers to understand if we just do our job as train Rangers and be professionals and train Rangers. That's what we are here to do. Its is a little bit of a distraction, sure in a sense it is. But I think everyone understands the significance this class holds," mentions Command Sgt. Major Curtis H. Arnold, Jr. of the Airborne Ranger Training Brigade.

We watched as the Ranger students, mostly the women navigated through the one mile Darby Queen obstacle course, the most grueling in the Army. Ranger students were told to stay focused on their task and to ignore the camera lens and media crews.

Arnold explained, "Let guys like me worry about media. What I want you to focus on is doing your job. You are here because you are here to train Rangers. The media will be here  day or two but in the end these students deserve to be taught the best and they deserve to be well trained and get their Ranger experience."

We were also given a tour of the training grounds of Camp Darby, but we were restricted to certain areas to allow the students to concentrate on the task at hand.

The Army took months in advance preparing for this specific Ranger school.

"We had female advisors to help us out, so this has been about a two or three months process to prepare for this," Nelson said.

Scheduling small groups of media each day was also part of that strategic plan to make sure everything went smoothly for everyone involved.

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