(WASHINGTON - The Army is asking for female volunteers to possibly attend a Ranger course in the spring.
A final decision will be made in January on whether or not to actually conduct the one-time assessment, officials said. Since the Army needs to identify, select and begin training for potential participants, two "All Army Activity" or ALARACT messages were sent to the field asking for volunteers.
The Ranger assessment course would train men and women together in order to help prepare institutions, schools and leaders for future integration decisions, according to Army G-1 officials at the Pentagon.
The assessment course would be open to all women in the ranks of specialist to major, if they can meet the physical qualifications and prerequisites.
Female observers would also be needed to serve as advisors to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. Staff sergeants to master sergeants would be eligible, along with chief warrant officers 2 and 3, first lieutenants, captains and majors. The deadline to submit selection packets is Oct. 10. Potential students and observers will be identified in December.
Current Ranger course standards will remain the same for all students, said G-1 officials. Prerequisites, phase performance requirements and graduation standards would not change for the assessment.
"We will be prepared to execute the assessment professionally and objectively, if directed," said Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning.
All female candidates would be required to attend the Army National Guard Ranger Training and Assessment Course conducted at Fort Benning prior to the assessment course.
Women who volunteer to serve as observers for the Ranger course must also undergo a selection process that includes a fitness test, land navigation, a combat water survival assessment, an operations order test, a 12-mile road march with 35-pound rucksack and review boards.
The women will not be Ranger instructors during the assessment, but as observers they will need to be able to keep up to the students and instructors.
Women who complete the Ranger assessment course as students will be awarded the Ranger tab to wear, but will not be awarded associated Ranger skill identifiers due to restrictions in Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 652. The decision to change that or not is scheduled to be made by the secretary of Defense no later than Jan. 1, 2016, when he determines if women will be permitted to become Infantry Soldiers and serve in other closed military occupational specialties.
The secretary of defense revoked the direct ground combat rule, Jan. 24, 2013, following a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Army and other services were given until January 2016 to implement changes and submit requests to exclude specific military occupational specialties from the ban being lifted.
In May 2012, the Army announced it would open six military occupational specialties that were previously closed to women. This opened combat-related jobs in 37 battalions across nine brigade combat teams.
The six jobs opened were 13M Multiple Launch Rocket System crewmember, 13P MLRS operations/fire direction specialist, 13R Field Artillery Firefinder Radar operator specialist, 91A M1 Abrams tank system maintainer, 91M Bradley Fighting Vehicle system maintainer and 91P Artillery mechanic.
Over the past year, the Army Training and Doctrine Command has been conducting a Physical Demands Study to develop gender-neutral standards for tasks performed by those in a combat MOS. The study is part of Soldier 2020, the Army's initiative to look at integrating women into previously closed jobs such as infantry, combat engineer, field artillery and armor.