RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Slippery Slope: Ranger Class, 2015 <

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Slippery Slope: Ranger Class, 2015

--G. I. Jane (1997)

I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
Who'll enjoy being a guy
having a girl...like... me 
--I Enjoy Being a Girl,
Flower Drum Song 

I feel dizzy
I feel sunny
I feel fizzy and funny and fine
And so pretty
Miss America can just resign 
--I Feel Pretty, 
West Side Story

 Hey, little girl, comb your hair,
fix your make-up, soon he will open the door,
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger,
you needn't try any more 
--Wives and Lovers,
Burt Bacharach

When we were kids, "Your mother wears Army boots" was about the worst insult we could muster.  Now, it's just another day in the office for female military members.

In the march to equality (androgyny?), this year saw the first three female graduates from Ranger school. Ranger agrees with those who feel that the admission of females will lower the standards of Infantry combat training as well as the effectiveness of combat units But he also believes Ranger training was being degraded long before women entered the school.

Ranger's Ranger experience (referred to henceforth as "RR") was a far cry from today's climate-controlled living experience. Barracks were uninsulated and unheated in the depth of winter; windows were nailed open.

Ranger School had no niceties. RR's candidates were allowed five minutes in the mess hall, so a meal consisted mainly of  what you could stuff in your field jacket pockets, like Hoffman's grubby "Ratso Rizzo" in Midnight Cowboy. That is probably not the case today, as the candidates all looked clean and rested when Ranger had an opportunity to view the camp several years ago. The men from RR's looked like extreme reality show escapees.

They traveled to Mountain Ranger Camp (MRC) in 2 1/2 ton truck with canvas top, freezing in the wind chill of a North Georgia winter. They lived in primitive huts. The showers were cold, and there was a central latrine. They seldom slept more than four hours, and usually that was in the field with only a sleeping bag cover allowed. Rations were C-type.

Compare Ranger school's 2015 three-hour, 12-mile forced march component (the same standard that a non-elite group like female MP basic trainees had to meet 30 years ago) to RR's 19-mile forced march off 1968 with rucksacks and all normally carried TO&E equipment.

The forced march requirement now is only 60% of the 1968 standard. (Note: RR's 1968 training was a degradation still from that of basic line unit training in WWII, when the 2/506/101 performed a 56-mile forced march from Toccoa, GA to Atlanta.) RR's required five-mile run and all p.t. was done in 2-lb boots, not sneakers. His medics gave the men Darvon 600's so they could numb themselves during the day. 

Why the degradation in training? Is it because today's All Volunteer Army does not need to be as tough?

The female Ranger graduates were recycled more than once (having not passed previous classes.) Though recycling was not uncommon in Ranger's experience, only one attempt at recycling was allowed, and it was never at Camp Darby, the patrolling component (as it was with these females) 

Why did they all the women fail at Darby? When RR's arrived they were branch-qualified and knew patrolling and how to use all TO&E equipment and weaponry. Darby was simply a polishing endeavor. There were no recycles at Darby because it was too early to identify the need for remediation.

Ranger school training has been degraded, and now women (with a little help from their friends) will be passing through. And though they will be assigned to units, it is doubtful that will ever be used as combat multipliers in actual Infantry combat scenarios.

These female Ranger's were raised with tough and buff movie characters like Lara Croft and G.I. Jane. Our all-inclusive society is allowing them to realize their dreams, but at what cost will this EOE effort come?

[Cross-posted @ MilPub.]

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Blogger Ael said...

Societies change, armies change.
This is to be expected.

Flint knapping is no longer an important military skill.
Forced marches are getting close to being irrelevant.
(when is the last time an American unit conducted an actual operational march?
The closest NATO one I can think of was the British one in the Falklands in 1982.

If Ranger School was closed entirely, would America lose any wars they would have won otherwise? Probably not. Therefore giving a ranger tab to a small number of females won't be a great strategic gain to any of America's enemies. Presumably, whatever possible loss of combat efficiency will be overcome by the political or societal gains of the American people/ government. (and there must be some gain, otherwise we would not have seen the attempt in the first place).

Uphill, both ways.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 11:19:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The last major forced march that I can remember was Bataan and the USMC at the Chosin reservoir.
Just image if women were present.
We didn't have a Ranger school in ww2 even though we had Rangr Bns, so the school is not a military necessity, but neither is women being in maneuver units.
If we are not gonna have forced marches in the future , then why do we train for them?
Let's just do video games instead.

Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 7:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

I agree, training for forced marches is likely an anachronism.

The limitations of flesh and blood hasn't changed in millennia while technology continues to improve.

Dropping forced marches for video games may very well improve America's war fighting ability. Even if it doesn't make sense today, the rate of change curves suggest it will happen relatively soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 10:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Cholo Azul said...

I appreciate those quantitative comparisons, Jim. Lots of hype out there on this topic right now. The history of success in warfare points clearly to the need for those who can push themselves beyond limits.

It seems the case then, that the decision to adjust Ranger training to the point where there were more graduates than would ever see action in a Ranger unit, was made before gender was a pressing issue.

I seem to recall reading something to the effect that having tabbed individuals spread out across the entire Army would be of benefit in multiple ways.
If the current training standard imparts even a lesser amount of valuable traits, and there are more individuals who pushed themselves to prevail serving on active duty, is the new common denominator a negative? Or is the redistribution of assets an overall plus?

There will still be those who surpass all obstacles to make it into Ranger units, SF, etc. so it isn't like the Army is losing its spear point, is it?

Losing traditions, and the esteem that comes from high level of accomplishment, I fully understand. And I see the perils that come with 'watering down'.

Not sure I can fault the long range planners for this evolution though, is seems to pass the cost/benefit analysis on the tangibles.

Monday, November 23, 2015 at 6:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The original intent of Ranger School was not to produce Rangers for units, but rather to keep Ranger skills alive.
The concept was for every Company and Platoon to have a tabbed Ranger to lead and organize combat patrols in enemy held terrain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 1:22:00 PM GMT-5  

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