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They told her she’d fail Army Ranger school; Pa. National Guard helped prove them wrong

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A Pennsylvania National Guard sergeant broke a glass ceiling in the U.S. Army in December, and it was no easy feat. 

Sgt. Danielle Farber and another woman became the first enlisted women in the National Guard to graduate the U.S. Army Ranger School, the most intense training the branch offers. Only one other woman in the National Guard has completed the school. That was an officer in the West Virginia National Guard who graduated in 2018. 

Farber didn’t even know she was about to make history until she was almost done with Ranger School. And she didn’t go just to make a point. Farber said she wanted to take her leadership skills to the next level, and knew the Army’s toughest course would be the place to do that.

But, she admits there was a little bit of spite involved.

“A lot of people said I couldn’t do it,” Farber said. “So I wanted to prove them wrong.”

Farber, 30, lives in Hummelstown, is trained as a combat medic and works full-time as an instructor at the Medical Battalion Training Site at Fort Indiantown Gap.

The odds of her proving any naysayers wrong was slim. 

Out of each class of roughly 400 Ranger hopefuls, only 30 to 50 spots are for National Guard soldiers. And only about 48 percent of people who start Ranger School graduate.

Nearly 30 percent call it quits in the first week, when Ranger hopefuls are put through intense training that involves a 12-mile “ruck” through the woods carrying a heavy pack and a combat water survival test. Since the combat ban on women was completely lifted in 2015, only 42 women have graduated Ranger School, Farber said. 

Farber didn’t mince words when describing the school on Thursday.

“It sucks,” she said with a laugh. “It’s the hardest course I’ve done so far.”

Farber knew she was physically prepared and mentally capable of completing the school. But she did not know if she could persevere when challenged on all fronts.

“Physical, emotional, mental, everything starts breaking down at once,” Farber said. “It’s really hard to prepare yourself for that.”

More: Army life: Former Lebanon High football star Mark Pyles pursuing career in the military

Unique pre-Ranger training

Farber said she was ready to be done at one point, when she was freezing cold, wet, and operating on an empty stomach and only about 20 minutes of sleep. 

She credits her success to a unique program the Pennsylvania National Guard runs that prepares soldiers physically and mentally in the months before they head to Ranger School. 

1st Sgt. Troy Conrad said Thursday that they choose soldiers who have leadership potential for the program, which starts about six months in advance of Ranger School. 

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“That willingness to learn, that willingness to get into the physical condition that they need to be in, we’re looking for that drive,” Conrad said. 

The selected soldiers are given a fitness training plan, Conrad said, and are connected with mentors to help them prepare.

The three-year-old program has graduated 75 to 80 percent of its participants through Ranger School, Conrad said. 

Although the number of women who have graduated Ranger School is still fairly low, Farber said she hopes to help the numbers increase.

In the weeks since graduating the school, Farber said she has heard from several National Guard commanders in other states, wondering what advice she has for how they can female soldiers at their bases who want to go to Ranger School.

“The more I can help with that, I think that will be great,” Farber said. .

Article source: https://www.ldnews.com/story/news/2020/01/09/how-danielle-farber-third-woman-national-guard-ranger-school/4422049002/

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Posted by on Jan 18 2020. Filed under Army. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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