The Army, ever servile to the latest political fads emanating from the Pentagon, opened the US Army Ranger School to women candidates in the class that began on April 20.
The first-ever Army Ranger School with female students opened on Monday with 16 of 19 female soldiers passing the initial physical fitness test, as the Pentagon continues to assess which new combat roles women should have.
The class includes 380 men and 19 women, said Gary Jones, an Army spokesman. Of those, 78 men (20.5 percent) and three women (15.7 percent) failed the initial fitness test, he said. Twenty women had qualified to attend by first completing a 17-day preparatory course at Fort Benning, but one of them withdrew. The news was first reported by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer near Fort Benning, Ga., which is home to the Ranger School.
For those who aren’t familiar with the course, it is 61-days of intense stress, sleep deprivation, lack of food and any other item that could conceivably make life at the bottom of Maslow’s Heirarchy not a challenge, and general suck. The graduation rate is a [deleted]-hair above 50% but this masks the fact that 37% of all graduates have to repeat at least one phase. So 61-days is really a best case and most graduates spend closer to 75-days in the course. One of my officers started the course three times before finally completing it as distinguished honor graduate.
One hardly knows what the Army was thinking. If physical standards aren’t radically changed for women, and Bruce Jenner isn’t in the class, human physiology in terms of muscle mass, weight, bone structure, and upper body strength indicate that few, if any, birth-women (I guess we have to start using this now to be clear) can pass the program. Personally, I was betting the Army would fold like a cheap suit. When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says:
“Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?”
And, of course, the reason we would be questioning that is that any woman’s career is much more important than any number of bodies left strewn about a battlefield.
Much to my surprise, the Ranger cadre have held firm to the macro-standards. Of the 19 women in the first class, eleven did not complete the first four days, the Ranger Assessment Program — what used to be known as City Phase, of the course. At the end of the Darby Phase, the remaining eight women were recycled having failed to meet the standard necessary to move on to Mountain Phase at Camp Frank D. Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia. At the end of the recycle period, five of the remaining eight women were dropped from the course. Three were allowed to start with a new class from Day One. This would entail retaking the Ranger Assessment Program.
The remaining eight female Ranger School candidates failed the first phase of the U.S. Army’s elite infantry program, the Army said in a statement late Friday.
Of the eight women, five were kicked out of training. Three others will be allowed to start over from the beginning of the first phase of Ranger School. Those three will start class on June 21.
The Army said in a statement that 29 students failed to meet the standards of phase one, also known as the Darby Phase. A vast majority of the students who are being dropped from the course were unable to successfully lead a patrol. All students received multiple opportunities to lead a patrol as a squad or team leader, the Army said.
No word yet if the three women eligible to return to the course will take the offer. They’ve already spent 41 days in Ranger School, another 61 — in a best case scenario — would be daunting.
But the real cost of this little experiment is astronomical. Even if the women had made it through the course it proves nothing other than if you throw enough resources at something you might be able to achieve a modicum of success. While men go from their units to Ranger School, this current crop of women were coddled in a way that is simply stunning. From an online military forum where this was discussed:
I honestly know that some (not all) of the females who are going through right now were treated favorably in order to be better prepared for Ranger School. And “favorably” is a very conservative way of putting it. For example: multiple opportunities to pass RTAC; training in-between RTAC cycles to get better prepared to complete RTAC; training by an RI (not from RTB or RTAC) to get better prepared for Ranger School; PT plans focused on RAP week events and weapons training. All of this took place on the the governments dime at Ft. Banning and they did not have duty obligations back at their units. I’m sure all Ranger students would love to be put on active duty orders (if guard or reserve) or separated from their daily duties to strictly prepare for Ranger school. At the end of the day, they needed this preparation in order to have a good shot at passing rap week in ranger school.
What this comment means is that the women candidates were given extensive training to prep them for Ranger School. They were released from their units for a long period of time to prepare for the course — men arent’ given that luxury. And they had special training sessions not just with instructors from the Ranger Training Brigade (RTB) but from the Ranger Instructors (RI), the men who actually grade the students in Ranger School, on the material they would need to know to pass. And still they didn’t.
Now the Army hasn’t given up. They have announced they will run a couple more pilot classes. Presumably this will continue until whatever point is being proven is reached.