Shortly before his speech at the Iowa State Fair, Sen. Marco Rubio
told CNN that he is supportive of qualified women in these positions.
"Anyone who is willing to serve in uniform and can pass all of the requirements of the program absolutely can serve our country," he said.
The two women graduating Friday are among the 96 students who completed the intensive training program Friday in Fort Benning, Georgia. This was the first year the Army opened the course to women on a trial basis.
At a town hall meeting at Winthrop University in South Carolina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
was unequivocal in his support of women serving in combat roles.
"If they're Rangers they're clearly qualified. These decisions ought to be made by the military not by the political side of life in Washington, D.C.," he said. "If you're Ranger ready, you're combat ready. And that's an extraordinary feat for these two women that they're graduating. I think it's something that we should all be really proud of."
It's still not clear what awaits the female graduates, because the women can't apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force currently limited to men.
The Pentagon is expected to make final decisions later this year on what combat roles the women will be allowed to fill.
The Pentagon describes Ranger School as "the Army's premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress to lead soldiers during small unit combat operations."
The current class started in April with 381 men and 19 women. The students were forced to train with minimal food and little sleep and had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains and swamplands.
Students also had to undergo a physical fitness test that included 49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin-ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters and 27 days of mock combat patrols.
By the end of the 62-day course, only 94 men and two women met all the requirements.
The Pentagon did not provide the names of the Rangers set to graduate Friday.