First female Army Rangers' trailblazing achievement

Two female soldiers are making history as the first women to graduate from the Army's Ranger School, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

The Army has not yet released their names, in part to protect them from harassment by die-hards who cannot stomach the idea of females wearing the coveted Ranger tab.

A Few Good Women

The two women, both West Point graduates, are expected to appear before the media Thursday ahead of their graduation Friday.

Nineteen women started the Army Ranger course -- 62 days of nearly constant physical and mental stress on little food and even less sleep.

Along with 94 men, they made it through a week of physical testing at Fort Benning, Georgia, then went through mountain training in north Georgia and swamp training in Florida.

Men and women were all held to the same standards, and it was frequently hard to tell them apart in the scenes the Army allowed cameras to record.

At the graduation ceremony, the men and women will each be awarded the Ranger tab to wear on their uniform but, unlike the men, the women will not be allowed to serve in the elite Ranger units.

"One of the key things that the students learn is that the limit that they believe exists probably doesn't, and that they're capable of doing much more under very difficult circumstances," U.S. Army Ranger Association president Travis West said.

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U.S. Army Soldiers conduct Airborne and Air Assault Operations during the Ranger Course at Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, August 06, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Ebony Banks/ Released

Accepting women into Ranger School was part of the Army's experiment to determine if women could withstand the grinding life of the infantry, carrying heavy packs and operating in harsh terrain day after day.

"For those women who are able to complete the course, it will probably help them in some ways in their careers," West said.

The armed services are under orders to open up all combat jobs to women by the end of this year.

One of the commanders of the Ranger course compared the graduation of the first women to breaking the four-minute mile. Once the barrier is broken, others will quickly follow.

The fact that two have now completed the course does not guarantee that women will be allowed to serve in the infantry, but it is a major step in that direction.