Defense Secretary Ash Carter says he has personally congratulated the two female soldiers who this week became the first women to complete the rigorous Army Ranger School.

At a Pentagon news conference, he called the women trailblazers who showed their capabilities by finishing what Carter called the Ranger "proving ground."

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver this week became the first female soldiers to complete Ranger School, and they will graduate at a ceremony Friday at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Being Ranger-qualified is a career-enhancing accomplishment, but the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment is not open to women. That could change. Carter is due to decide in coming months whether to approve any recommended exceptions to a policy of opening all military positions to women.