FORT BENNING, Ga., (Feb. 11, 2015) -- The first of four gender-integrated iterations of the Ranger Training Assessment Course at the Army National Guard's Warrior Training Center here concluded Jan. 30 with 58 of 122 Soldiers successfully meeting all requirements.

The second iteration of RTAC began Feb. 6 with 83 men and 17 women working to qualify themselves to attend the Ranger Course.

The female Soldiers who successfully complete all course requirements during one of the four gender-integrated RTACs will be invited to participate in the assessment of the Ranger Course in April.

"This first iteration of an integrated RTAC provided significant lessons learned as we conduct a deliberate and professional way forward to the integrated assessment (of the Ranger Course) in April," said Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning.

During that first iteration, five female Soldiers, out of 26 women who started, successfully completed all RTAC requirements.

Historically, more than half of the Soldiers who complete RTAC will go on to successfully complete the Ranger Course, which is why Miller said RTAC is mandatory for female Soldiers who want to attend the Ranger Course Assessment.

"RTAC was our decision to give them the best possible pre-Ranger course in order to train and educate the future students to be successful," said Miller. "If they do not meet the prerequisites at RTAC, I am not recommending them to move forward into the Ranger Course."

RTAC is two weeks long and consists of two phases. The first phase, assessment, mirrors the assessment phase at Ranger School, and is designed to assess a Soldier's physical and mental abilities. During this phase, a student conducts a PT test, a swim test, land navigation, and a 6-mile foot march.

The second phase of RTAC, the field training exercise, is designed to assess and train Soldiers on troop leading procedures and patrolling, skills which will be used extensively during the Ranger Course.

A Soldier who completes RTAC should be able to demonstrate physical and mental preparedness for the U.S. Army Ranger Course as well as apply troop-leading procedures; navigate various terrain types while dismounted, and develop and carry out combat orders for combat patrols to the same standard as the U.S. Army Ranger Course.

Maj. William Woodard Jr., A Company commander, Army National Guard Warrior Training Center, said the physical fitness test was where the majority of failures occurred during the first gender-integrated RTAC in January.

The Ranger physical fitness test consists of 49 pushups, 59 situps, a five-mile run in 40 minutes and six chin-ups.

"The females failed for the same reason the men failed - it was the PT test, almost across the board," Woodard said.

The standards are the same for men and women at RTAC just as they will be for the actual Ranger Course Assessment in April.

"There is absolutely no intention to change any of the current standards," Miller said. "The standards in place will remain the same. There will be no change to those standards."

Those who are unsuccessful at RTAC can still volunteer to attend another RTAC iteration.

"There are some who were pretty close to meeting the standards," Miller said. "As we have subsequent classes, if they raise their hand and say they want to come back into a follow-on course to try and meet the prerequisites, we're willing to let them do that. That's the same thing that would happen with the male Soldiers. That's not anything special for the female Soldiers."

Woodard said one female Soldier from the January RTAC course is enrolled in the February course.

"She's signed back in and will go through the whole thing again," he said. "It's not fun and it's not easy, and yet she's ready to go through the whole process again."

Woodard said the female Soldiers who have attended RTAC so far have been grateful for the opportunity.

"They were very vocal, direct and thankful for finally being able to do something they really wanted to do," he said. "They definitely want to be treated the same - no better, no worse and no deference paid because of who they are. They want to be dealt the same hand and allowed to play their cards just like everyone else. As a group they showed an incredible amount of commitment and resolve."

Miller said the female Soldiers who have chosen to seek the Ranger tab have shown a willingness to go above and beyond.

"I look at this as a historic time for the Army," Miller said. "It's always great to see any Soldier, male or female, who is willing to raise their hand and voluntarily step forward and undertake some of this rigorous training."

The final two RTAC courses with male and female students prior to the April Ranger Course Assessment will be conducted March 6-21 and April 3-18.