Final 8 females at Ranger School fail Darby Phase again, 3 to restart from beginning

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Capt. Michelle Kelly, center, of Fort Drum, with face painted, prepares to conduct patrols during the Ranger Course at Fort Benning, Ga., on May 19.  U.S. Army
Capt. Michelle Kelly, center, of Fort Drum, with face painted, prepares to conduct patrols during the Ranger Course at Fort Benning, Ga., on May 19. U.S. Army

Final 8 females at Ranger School fail Darby Phase again, 3 to restart from beginning

by: Gordon Block | .
Watertown Daily Times, N.Y. | .
published: June 01, 2015

The final eight female soldiers at Ranger School failed its Darby Phase for a second time, and five of them will be dropped from the course.

The remaining three, along with two male soldiers who failed the phase, will get the opportunity to start Ranger School from the very beginning in late June.

The remaining eight female soldiers included Fort Drum’s Capt. Michelle L. Kelly. It was not released if she was one of the three restarting the class.

The Army announced the results Friday afternoon. It said the class reset was within procedures, and used when students struggled with one aspect but excelled at others.

The failure of the five women and 24 men in the Darby phase was primarily linked to being unable to successfully lead a patrol, the Army said, but also was attributed to a combination of poor peer evaluations and negative spot reports.

“The group that was unsuccessful was, of course, disappointed in their performance,” said Col. David G. Fivecoat, who leads the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. “However, each Ranger student, whether successful or unsuccessful, learned more about themselves, leadership, and small unit tactics, and returns to the Army a better trained soldier and leader.”

The Army said 195 male students passed the phase, and 54 men were given the ability to give the phase a second try.

The inaugural female Ranger students were a result of a 2012 decision to end the military’s ban on women in combat roles. By 2016, the services will have to integrate women into all jobs, unless specific reasons are given for an exception.

Of the 19 women that started the Ranger course April 20, only 8 made it through the initial four-day Ranger Assessment Phase. Earlier in the month, the group failed the Darby Phase, along with 101 male soldiers, but were allowed to recycle through the phase.

Had any of the women graduated, they would not have been able to join the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, but would have worn the Ranger tab on their uniform.

The elite school is seen as the premier leadership development opportunity in the Army.

The service said that about 50.13 percent of entering soldiers have graduated the course over the past six years.

The unsuccessful attempt of the first class will not be the end of women taking the course.

Gen. Raymond T. Odiero, Army Chief of Staff, told the Army Times Thursday that the Army will allow female soldiers to attend “a couple more” cycles of the school.

He also said that the standards would not change in bringing women into the course, and attributed the Darby failures to a lack of patrolling experience.

The athletic resume of Capt. Kelly, 37, of Chatham, includes time competing in modern pentathlon in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, multiple sports at SUNY Cortland, multiple Army Ten Milers. At Chatham High School she was a wide receiver on the football team.

She had trained for the course since October.

See video of soldiers going through patrols for the course.

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