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A note from inside the belly of the beast...

 “Gents,

It is with great sadness that I confirm that Ranger School will be co-ed in January 13. Remember neither the CSA nor the CSMA is a ranger. Wonder how Robert Rogers feels about this?

Can the Q course be far behind?

Sorry to be passing this on.

J”
I must note it is a single data point, unconfirmed by other sources, but hey, this is a blog, right? And we're every bit the valid news source MSNBC is.

I, for one, welcome our new genderless overlords.

Let’s go hit the Pointe du Hoc, gentlepersons!

10 Comments

I have mixed feelings about this.

Overall, I don't think enough women are physically strong enough to participate in this kind of training. Those that are strong enough are probably so few that changing the policy for them might be a waste of time. At the same time, if a woman was enough of an athlete to participate, and really wanted to, I'd kind of want her to be able to go for it.

One thing that this whole debate (women in the infantry/Ranger school/ect) has brought out is how much of the Army is run by men for men, and the resentment that many male soldiers still have for women. I was kind of oblivious for years about this at my last unit, because there were so many women around that everyone got treated the same. Now I'm in FORSCOM, and Holy Crap is there a difference.

I'm sorry that their boy's club is getting broken up, but if they keep taking it out on me, we're going to have problems.
 
Saker - get back to me with the report on how the PT tests won't be "adjusted" for the female candidates... (As has been done EVERYTIME something like this was done.)
 
 Saker, in regards to what you're saying, black soldiers had to fight their way through the same kultursmog.  And trust me, the women of my generation broke the barriers that made it possible for you to be where you are now.  You've got it easy in comparison - however not easy it may be.

At the same time, emdfl's point still stands - and I think that letting the women in is a good thing, and has been a net plus - when do we get ourselves to a point where we say enough is enough.  You want to play, you gotta be able to play.

There are hundreds of thousands of high school football players.

There are only 1200 professional football players.  There are lots of high schoolers with the basic talent.  And lots of them with great football smarts.  And lots of them with great football physiques.  But there are not a lot of them that have all of that in one package, and the winnowing process is brutal.

The real crux of this debate is that we, the soldiers, don't trust the leadership to honor the thrust of your second paragraph.  This isn't a sport.  I don't care what your athleticism is.  I want to know if you can fricking pull me oughta the beaten zone in the underbrush, then pick my ass up and hump it to the medics.  You can do that, and we can all keep our frickin' sexual impulses in order, fine.  

But don't tell me that I have to meet that standard, and you don't.

And really don't just lower the standard for everybody, just to make sure we're frickin' inclusive-looking in the photograph.  If the standard has a purpose, then it should apply equally.  If it doesn't apply equally, then it ain't a standard.

This would be distinct from something like height/weight standards (which are stupid on the face of it, and all about cosmetics, not fitness) which should be gender normed.  But minimum fitness and strength standards should *not* be gender normed when applied to jobs where strength and fitness matter.  

And not a few careers are going to go down the tubes when people can't adapt.

Heh.  Given the thread on Boq's "Ghey" post, where I'm fighting a devil's advocate position on "Chaplains who can't adapt will need to find new employment" - I wonder how that will play out in this context...  because the base reason people will get careers canxed is the same.
 
Sir John- You're right, I have it easy in comparison with everyone who has come before me. I think it just takes me by surprise sometimes because I thought we'd gotten past the whole male/female thing, but I was wrong.

As far as standards- hey, we're on the same side! I understand what you and emdfl are saying about standards being lowered. I don't think they should be lowered at all. I believe in one standard for everyone. But I know that the people in charge are never going to do that.

Which leaves us where we are now- with a lot of resentful male soldiers, and a lot of female soldiers who feel embarrassed that that standards are being lowered for them, but can't do a damn thing about it.

I know I'm usually a quiet lurker, but this rant has been building up for a while. I just really wanted to vent...
 
Ranger School will be changed beyond all recognition. The purpose of Ranger School is not to test physical fitness, but to develop and test mental fitness.  Ranger students are pushed beyond their physical and mental limits, then placed in a leadership position and are required to perform at a satisfactory level.  Passing this test gives Ranger leaders the confidence to be effective combat leaders under the most arduous combat conditions imaginable.

Physical standards for Ranger training will inevitably change as they have done in every single case where a school or career field was opened to females.  Standards will be manipulated and managed in order to ensure that graduation rates are comparable for men and women. The effect on Ranger School will be profound. I predict that Ranger School will remain a good course for patrolling skills, small unit actions, and field craft.  But its most important mission, preparing combat leaders for the demands and stresses of combat will become a thing ot the past.  As for career enhancement, once Ranger School is dumbed down, it will carry no more weight with promotion boards than the NBC course.
 
 Saker - I understand. I watched my first wife (one of those relative pioneers) fight her way through crap she never should have had to fight through.
 
Here's a thought from a Zoomie: Now before you tell me I couldn't possibly comprehend your Army angst, let me give you all some background.

1. My AFSC (2W1X1 [same as MOS]) in the AF just promoted its first female CMSgt about 2 years ago (in the ANG). Now, we've had females since the early 70s, but they were smarter than us knuckle draggers and cross-trained as soon as they could... most of the time.
2. My elder daughter was just medically retired from active duty for illnesses associated with her deployment to Iraq in 2008. She was a TSgt (jet engine mechanic) with 9 years in.
3. I spent almost 3 years at Victory watching MPs go out on mounted patrols from Victory and "Combat Arms" units go out from Camp Liberty on mounted patrols and the only difference in the 2 formations of HumVees was the MP convoy had some pony-tails sticking out from under the brain-buckets. Along those lines, I would invite you all to purview this TINS: http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/silverstar.html BTW, I used to have the actual citation, but I can't find it...

Now, even though I am retired AF, I have spent a lot of time slumming among the Army (and do today).

1. I have seen a lot of male soldiers who probably couldn't pull my a$$ or anybody else’s out of a burning HumVee.
2. I have seen some female soldiers that could probably throw me all the way across the road.

Now, if you all are afraid that gender norming may occur in Ranger School, it's time to write your congressman, especially, my fellow retirees that no longer have to fear command retribution. It would be especially helpful if some female soldiers would write their congressmen and express a desire to compete equally with the current standard.

Finally, maybe it's time the Army gave more weight to performance, experience and skill knowledge for promotion and less for how many schools a career NCO/Officer can attend in one lifetime.

 
 'loader - I have been supportive of the chicks throughout, and my entry in Matt Burden's "Blogs of War" book is the AAR for Sergeant Hester's Silver Star and I highlighter the other awards that went to Raven 42.

But yes, I think you miss the point, perhaps.  Sustained infantry combat is different from any other job in the services.  Different from the artillery.  Different from Armor.  Different from Aviation.

And Ranger school isn't "infantry basic" as Lvncenturion pointed out.  Ranger school is deliberately physically punishing beyond the norm for a very specific purpose.  There is no "right" to attend, and no "right" to graduate.  But I don't think any of us believe that there won't be a push to achieve an equality of outcome.

I say let 'em go.  But don't change a bleeping thing (aside from there will be the leadership requirement to treat them equally... i.e., don't pile on - but then, that ignores the fact that in my experience, officer Ranger candidates got some piling on just because they were officers).

And I don't know anyone who trusts the leadership on that issue of holding the line on standards.


 
Oldloadr

I am not afraid that gender norming will occur, I am certain of it, based on the 40 year history of Army policies in this regard.  According to which source or legend that you choose, graduation rates for Ranger School are south of 50%.  Attrition has three main causes: injury, failure to perform under stress, and quitting.  Female attrition rates will certainly be higher than male attrition by reason of injury alone.  Attrition from the latter categories can only be known from experience, and so time will tell. Higher attrition rates will be politically unacceptable, so the Army will adjust the standards, tempo, and events of the course to achieve comparable graduation rates.  The effect on overall combat readiness and effectiveness is difficult to predict, except that the effect will be negative.

Women have performed well in a wide range of combat operations, and their presence on the battlefield is valuable, especially in the forms of unconventional warfare that we have experienced over the past ten plus years. We have an obligation to ensure that they are properly trained for the role that they will play, but we should not water down infantry and ranger training to accommodate social goals.
 
The Army Times has just published an article that helps to make my point.  The Army Sapper Course has been open to women soldiers for some time, and the Engineer School leadership insists that the standards have not been modified for female soldiers.  But facts are a stubborn thing, the article includes this paragraph:

"The graduation rate for the course is about 50 percent, Chambers said, adding that women averaged about a 38 percent graduation rate early on but now have leveled out at about 50 percent."

Anyone care to speculate on how this feat was achieved?

The article may be found here:

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/06/army-female-sappers-forge-path-women-combat-062412/