Two women have passed Army Ranger School

Even those who’ve served in the military, in combat, are impressed when they hear someone say that he was in the Army Rangers. The designation means something important.

And now it means even more. Two women have become the first to pass the Army Ranger School, which demands rigorous physical training tests that eliminate all but the most hardy of soldiers. And though the women won’t go into combat soon, as the military moves slowly toward the day when women will do so, no punches were pulled in the school itself. The commander of the training based at Fort Benning, Ga., ordered that no standards would be lowered for women candidates.

And what are those standards? The first week included a 12-mile march with a 50-pound rucksack. Then it got really tough: 40 push-ups, 59 sit-ups and a 5-mile run ... all within 40 minutes. Then there were four days of mountaineering, parachute jumps, helicopter assault training and nearly a month of combat patrols, often on little food and sleep.

No wonder that two-thirds of the class left or were dropped.

A proof of toughness beyond the standard of an average soldier is the goal. The Army did not identify the two women who won the Ranger designation, but it did say both are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. So they were used to unusual obstacles on the way to the top. And they were used to overcoming them.