If you want to become an Air Force ranger, then you’ll need to wait at least two years, as the military isn’t expected to admit women to its ranger-training program until at least 2015. Though the majority of rangers are members of the Army, you can still apply to the program if you serve in the Air Force. Though the Department of Defense hasn’t announced how it will incorporate women into its ranger program, expect to have to meet the same rigorous standards as male applicants.
To become an Air Force ranger, you must be a U.S. citizen and either on active duty or volunteer for the assignment. You need a general technical score of 105 or higher, a physical training score of at least 240 and have no physical limitations. You have to qualify for and volunteer for Airborne training and be a person of good character. This means, for example, that you can’t have a drug- or alcohol-related incident within the 24 months preceding your application. You must also enlist into or currently hold a Military Occupational Specialty found in the 75th Ranger Regiment and able to get at minimum a Secret clearance. Meet these basic eligibility requirements and the Air Force will put you through its 13-day Air Force pre-ranger screening course and combat water survival test.
Pre-Ranger Screening Course
The Air Force models its pre-ranger screening course on aspects of Army ranger training itself. You have to be able to perform 55 push-ups and 65 sit-ups in two minutes. You also have to be able to swim 15 meters while holding a rifle and wearing your military uniform, boots and web belt. You also can’t drop your weapon or show signs of fear.
The Pressure Mounts
During the 13-day screening course, you get two meals a day. You’re also expected to perform duties for about 20 hours a day. Before going to sleep, you have to clean your weapon and make sure your ruck sack is in a specific order. The first week of the course is the most difficult, Master Sgt. Jason France, 820th SFG operations superintendent and U.S. Army Ranger course graduate, said in an Moody Air Force Base public affairs release. While sleep-deprived and hungry, you have to pass all evaluations, which include completing a 12-mile march while carrying 35 to 50 pounds of equipment in three hours.
After completing the test and evaluation phase of the course, your instructors will put you through what they call a “rite of passage,” which involves a 4 a.m. wake-up call courtesy of smoke grenades and weapons-fire. After this portion of your training ends, expect to shift gears and focus on learning combat tactics, including ambushes and patrols.
Army Ranger Training
Even if you graduate from this training program, you may not make it to Army ranger training. The Air Force only sends the best possible candidates, according to Sgt. France. If that’s you, expect more of the same rigorous training during the nine weeks of ranger school. You’ll spend three weeks at Fort Benning, three weeks in the Appalachian Mountains and three weeks at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for the swamp-warfare portion of your training. Complete your training and you’ll join a fairly exclusive group of Air Force personnel. Since 1955, only 220 Air Force personnel have graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.