U.S. Army/Patrick Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence

An Air Force officer became the first female airman to earn the Ranger tab last week, joining a growing group of women who have completed the Army's legendary combat leadership course.

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Editor’s Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

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DoD photo

“See that tree line over there?” The fat pinch of chewing tobacco in the sergeant’s lip muddled his speech as he calmly addressed our ragged formation. “I want you to go touch,” he said, pausing to spew a stream of brown liquid at the ground. “Actually, no. Go bring me that fucking tree line.”

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Screenshot from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer video.

The odds of successfully completing U.S. Army Ranger School were stacked against Capt. Ryan Mortensen.

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U.S. Army photo

For what it’s worth, Mountain Phase was my least favorite in Ranger School, and the phase where I saw the most good Ranger candidates get hurt or recycled. Sleep deprivation and hunger have begun taking a toll, physically and emotionally. Injuries happen where they wouldn’t have otherwise as you keep pushing yourself beyond the limits with which you’re comfortable. Unstable students who would seem fine under normal circumstances begin behaving erratically.

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U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen

When you hear graduates reminiscing about Ranger School, most people talk about how tough Mountain Phase was, or how they almost failed in Florida. However, Benning Phase, the first of the three phases, is no walk in the park, either. In fact, over 60% of Ranger candidates fail this phase. But if you can adjust to the reality of not eating, not sleeping, and getting the piss smoked out of you while waiting to perform some difficult and often humiliating tasks, you have a pretty good chance of making it through.

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