Is Ranger School "as we knew it" dead?

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Is this the death of Ranger School? Did it die a long time ago? Is everyone worked up over two female graduates completely missing the point? At least one man thinks so.

Tomorrow we’ll see a female MP officer and a female Apache pilot (both West Point graduates) successfully complete Ranger School, the first women to do so. They are not going to the Regiment, nor are they going on to an infantry unit (graduating Ranger School should not be conflated with either of those things). This has, as you can imagine, created a hue and a cry. Some people decry the idea, accusing the Army of lowering standards (and frequently citing “Ranger Instructors they know” as proof. Others, including officers from the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, say there’s no way to satisfy those who doubt the females graduated fairly (and, well, he’s right). In fact Maj. Jim Hathaway (XO of the Ranger and Airborne Training Battalion and action officer from the 2014 Maneuver Warfighter Conference on SOF/Conventional Force Interdependence) went to far as to address that point on social media.  Says Hathaway,

“I am not much for posting on social media, but feel that I should comment on the current situation at Ranger School. First and foremost the Ranger instructors are professional noncommissioned Officers and trained the Ranger students the same way they have since 1952. If you believe nothing else, you should have faith in your fellow Rangers to adhere to their beliefs and the Ranger Creed…”

“…We could have invited each of you to guest walk the entire course, and you would still not believe,” he wrote. “We could have video recorded every patrol and you would still say that we ‘gave’ it away. Nothing we say will change your opinion.”

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Ranget School Females

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Capt. Kristen Griest (left), West Point class of 2011 and 1LT Shaye Haver (right) when they were cadets.

Now, interestingly, John Hurth of Tyr Group LLC has a somewhat different opinion (though he believes it was inevitable the females would be given some sort of modified treatment). He laments the death of Ranger School, but not because of anything to do with gender. He says it started a long time ago — it’s an interesting opinion, which we’ve decided to share here. Note that we don’t agree with everything he says. Some of our minions disagree with everything he says. But, he makes some compelling points to consider. We’ll follow over the coming days with some counterpoints.

Here’s what Hurth wrote (copied directly, nothing changed) in 2 parts. Don’t mind the typos. He was doing it from a remote location and he’s a knuckle-dragger anyway!

 

Ranger School as we knew it is dead, and the price paid is still to be determined.

That’s right, Ranger School is dead and it’s not the fault of the female cadets and soldiers either. The Death of Ranger School began a long time ago. It happened when Ranger School was labeled a “leadership” school by Army officers who wanted this school to be used to “punch” an officer’s ticket. You see there is a bigger picture here. For me it is easy, anyone who doesn’t require the skills taught at Ranger School should not attend whether male, female, officer, enlisted or cadet.

Let’s look at what Ranger School is designed for and what tasks are taught and performed by Ranger School students. I copied this straight from the Ranger Departments website, specifically where they discuss the history of Ranger School. (http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/rtb/)

“The Ranger Course was conceived during the Korean War and was known as the Ranger Training Command. On 10 October 1951, the Ranger Training Command was inactivated and became the Ranger Department, a branch of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Its purpose was, and still is, to develop combat skills of selected officers and enlisted men by requiring them to perform effectively as small unit leaders in a realistic tactical environment, under mental and physical stress approaching that found in actual combat. EMPHASIS IS PLACED ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDIVIDUAL COMBAT SKILLS AND ABILITIES THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF LEADERSHIP WHILE FURTHER DEVELOPING MILITARY SKILLS IN THE PLANNING AND CONDUCT OF DISMOUNTED INFANTRY, AIRBORNE, AIRMOBILE, AND AMPHIBIOUS INDEPENDENT SQUAD AND PLATOON-SIZE OPERATIONS. GRADUATES RETURN TO THEIR UNITS TO PASS ON THESE SKILLS.”

From 1954 to the early 1970’s, the Army’s goal, though seldom achieved, was to have one Ranger qualified NCO per infantry platoon and one officer per company. In an effort to better achieve this goal, in 1954 the Army required all combat arms officers to become Ranger/ Airborne qualified.”

You see the Army failed itself, its soldiers (past and present) and the citizens of the United States. Whenever you make a school necessary to punch an officer’s ticket for promotion you in fact degrade readiness and that is what has occurred over time. Some say that Ranger School is a “Leadership” school, well if that is so then why isn’t the Sergeant Majors Academy in charge of the curriculum as with all NCO development schools? Because it’s not just a leadership school, it’s an Infantry School. Why? Because it teaches small unit Infantry tactics that teaches combat arms soldiers how to be better Light Infantry Soldiers. Ranger School prepares soldiers to conduct combat and reconnaissance dismounted patrols, in different environments. Does every officer and enlisted soldier need this capability? NO! The soldiers who need this skill are those who actually will be performing these tasks as part of their Job Description and the operations that they will be required to perform.

The sad thing is the Army gave way to politics, which means that if the command does not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to politics and politicians then how can they be trusted with the Army’s readiness. The Army can’t tell the country least of all actual Rangers that these woman weren’t given special treatment. The fact is they were, and every Ranger knows they were because the community is small and we enlisted men will talk if something stinks.

So what will be interesting in the coming weeks and months is does the Army decide to lift the exclusion for woman to serve in Combat Arms MOS’s, because that’s what this whole social experiment has been about.

This will be my last comment and I want you to think about this carefully. If the military opens up these combat arms jobs to woman, will the United States Military be stronger or weaker for that decision? The reason I ask this is because our allies and our enemies have a vote and our National Defense Strategy can suffer if we don’t take into consideration the cultures that we interact with. The world is mostly a male dominated society, I know some of you may not like hearing that, but it’s true. If we don’t look at the bigger picture here we may be doing more damage to ourselves globally for the sake of equality within our own country.

Just because in our culture woman have the opportunity to excel and do anything or become anything doesn’t mean that allowing woman in combat arms is necessarily right thing to do from a strategic point of view. Especially when you take into consideration who they may have to interact with, and where we may have to fight.

John Hurth 3

Part 2:

First Two Female Soldiers Graduate Ranger School and everyone is still missing the point.

First Two Female Soldiers Graduate Ranger School and everyone is still missing the point.

First I want to congratulate the two women who were given an opportunity to attend and graduate Ranger School. The problem is that everybody is just NOT GETTING IT. Not even Maj. Jim Hathaway doing the Damage control for the Ranger Department is getting it. This is the charter for Ranger School according to the Army Ranger Training Brigades website under history. LOOK IT UP!

“a branch of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Its purpose was, and still is, to develop combat skills of selected officers and enlisted men by requiring them to perform effectively as small unit leaders in a realistic tactical environment, under mental and physical stress approaching that found in actual combat. Emphasis is placed on the development of individual combat skills and abilities through the application of the principles of leadership while further developing military skills in the planning and conduct of DISMOUNTED INFANTRY, AIRBORNE, AIRMOBILE, AND AMPHIBIOUS INDEPENDENT SQUAD AND PLATOON-SIZE OPERATIONS. Graduates return to their units to pass on these skills.”

Ranger School is a great school, no doubt about that. HOWEVER, Ranger School has been sold as a leadership School by the Officer Corps for many years so that it could be used to further an officer’s career, which is fact. We all know this and it has been going on for many years. Here is the thing, Ranger students are not taught leadership at any time during the course. However, they are graded on their ability to lead while conducting patrols in support of Infantry missions. A Ranger Student who attends Ranger School is either already a leader when they attend Ranger School or they aren’t. Ranger School students are graded on their ability to lead Dismounted INFANTRY Patrols (Combat or Reconnaissance). Ranger Students receive training in Advanced Infantry Tasks that revolve around planning, infiltration methods, small unit tactics, the conduct of Infantry mission sets such as reconnaissance, Raids and Ambushes and much more, in different environmental conditions.

Ranger school produces the Skill Qualification Identifier (SQI) “Golf” (if you’re a dirty nasty leg) and “Victor” (if you are Airborne qualified) these SQI’s help place soldiers in positions that require those unique skill sets and are vital for those units mission accomplishment. The Army School system has been abused for too long. So how many positions in Non-Combat Arms Branches actually require a “Golf” or “Victor” Skill Qualification Identifier? I’m guessing not too many. So, why is the Army sending non-combat arms Soldiers to a school that provides the Soldier with a skill qualification they will not utilize in their career field? You guessed it, for promotion.

I am not against non-combat arms receiving any training that allows them to be prepared in combat. That would be plain silly, However that is what “The Light Leaders Course” was designed for when I was coming up through the ranks. That course was actually designed to provide non-combat job fields a better combat capability that could actually be utilized in the performance of their job.

I am not against these Women. I am against the manipulation of a system to further someone’s career just because they chose the wrong job field. Ranger School revolves around Infantry related tasks and missions.

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This whole agenda has been about lifting the Combat MOS exclusion policy for woman. The women and Ranger School have been the pawn in a political chess game aimed at building a legacy for this current president. It has nothing to do with readiness or equality (accept if you’re using Ranger School as a litmus test for promotion). There are a lot of personal agendas that are being played out. Just remember when our soldiers leave this country for any type of contingency, our allies and our enemy have a say as to how our mission will succeed or fail. In our culture, it doesn’t matter. But when those soldiers regardless of sex, step off the plane onto foreign soil it will. Perceptions in male dominated cultures will impact us and possibly harm our overall strategic goals.

When it came to perceptions a wise SGM once told me, that “just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should because it could harm our mission”.

John Hurth 2

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Hurth is a former Special Forces soldier who now runs Tyr Group LLC (on Facebook here). Among the topics he teaches is tracking (a topic you know is near and dear to our heart). You can read a review of one of those classes here. If you get a chance, you might check out his book Combat Tracking Guide, it’s a great read.

John HurthWe welcome conversation as usual, but keep it constructive, and make sure to differentiate between what is your speculation/opinion and what is fact. We’re interested in what John has to say because he’s been there, done that, has an impeccable curriculum vitae, frequently posts things that make you think and because we know and like him (though he does look at least a little like pre-berserkergang Viking Santa). This doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with all his contentions.

Now, if you’re going to opine (and we hope you do), we’ll ask you to be reasonable about it. We don’t care about RUMINT that’s based on what your friend the Ranger said. We don’t want you to assure us of a truth that’s a truth because you “know a Ranger Instructor” or you watched Blackhawk Down eleven times. Save it.

This does not prevent you from expressing opinion or conjecture as long as you identify it as such. We are all about a good debate.

Oh, and if you haven’t had the testicular fortitude to even make the attempt, don’t impugn the effort these ladies are making. Just showing up takes balls. On that our minions can agree (though even among our minions there remains brisk debate about pretty much everything else).

There’s no doubt it’ll be a big production. You can even watch the event live streaming. Is Ranger School already dead as we know it? Is everyone missing the point?

Discuss.

You can read more details of Maj. Hathaway’s Facebook post here.

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12 thoughts on “Is Ranger School "as we knew it" dead?

  • September 27, 2015 at 11:02 am
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    If these allegations are true , then Maj. Jim Hathaway (No. 2 officer in the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade) and Maj Gen. Scott Miller have a lot to answer for.

    “There was no pressure from anyone above me to change standards,” Maj Gen. Scott Miller, who declined to speak to PEOPLE.

    (Ranger) Instructors say otherwise.

    “We were under huge pressure to comply,” one Ranger instructor says. “It was very much politicized.”

    http://www.people.com/article/female-ranger-school-graduation-planned-advance

    Reply
  • September 23, 2015 at 10:16 pm
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    The standards were not only lowered but totally ignored.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2015 at 11:06 am
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    Do you know whether the two female officers DOR’d and were readmitted for political reasons or were they simply recycled? A statement recently made by Lt. General Thomas McInerney (USAF, Ret’d) on this matter is confusing. Thanks.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2015 at 3:04 am
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    I am certainly no Ranger. I am not even an American. I am serving in my country’s army though, and have been in the armed forces (I started in the Navy) since ’98. I have been point man on a boarding team, I have been recon (where I did NCO school) and I have a couple of tours in the sandbox with relatively small teams (2-9).

    At NCO school there were a couple of women in the other classes. I have been to several “motivation checks” with women. They have performed fairly well. It varies from “we have to hump their shit” to “they will walk you into the ground” – with a 30kg+ ruck.

    We have female infantry, well.. all ranks. One of our IFV gunners had the highest kill ratio of our troops in Afghanistan for a while. Our SOF command have started up an all female platoon because SOF need them.

    No matter what you feel they are in to stay. Focus on how we can make them better! A lot of ten will excell. (Some of them will suck, just like some of the guys do). My point is, many of them will bring strengths to your team. Some of them will excell and contribute with stuff you had no idea you needed but will make you wonder how you managed without..

    Reply
  • August 21, 2015 at 2:34 am
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    What a load of horseshit.

    Ranger School (and to a lesser extent Sapper, jungle expert, commando, etc) has always been a dick-measuring exercise. If it were actually about teaching admittedly valuable small-unit techniques, RIs wouldn’t wash out half their classes with fuck-fuck games and sleep deprivation.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2015 at 11:00 am
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      You are mistaken here guy. Training under stress isn’t a POG requirement but certainly one for SOF. Multiple SEAL friends have told me being on a Team was harder than BUDs.

      Reply
      • August 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm
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        But that’s the rub; getting a ranger tab has never been part of SOF. The course material is conventional recon and light infantry stuff. Riggers and MPs and scouts and pre-branch cadets can all get their tab too.

        RASP and SFAS should be demanding and capriciously difficult because they are selecting personnel. SOCOM expects a certain caliber of soldier to fulfill the operational roles of 75th and SF.

        Apples and Oranges

        Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm
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    I’m not a Ranger, I’m not an operator, however I am a “non-combat arms” MOS. I have heard long debates about this, and regardless, I’ll be the first to admit being better at patching holes than implementing them. I for one am grateful for a Ranger by my side. It is a source of inspiration for myself, and many others. Regardless of what your community (again, I have not, nor will I ever be a Ranger) may think of these events transpiring, I want you to know what it means to a lot of soldiers to have a scroll watching over them.

    Thank you to all who have earned it, I still belive that the same blood runs through you all from Pointe Du Hoc to present day. I for one am greatful, and look forward to meeting you all in Valhalla some day.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 10:35 pm
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    As a women who comes from a military family and works with a lot of vets (but never served myself) I couldn’t agree more!

    In fact I wrote a blog post about this very thing and several other problems with women in combat.

    Read Here

    Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 9:52 pm
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    My wife could have easily passed all the physical requirements when she was 19. (“How many pushups could you do?” “Until the coach switched to another exercise.” EVERY DUDE knows exactly how many pushups he could’ve on a perfect day. As a 29-year-old she was fifth out of the water in a big-name Triathlon. Not the fifth female. The fifth human. At 59, she took top 10 places in three Masters Swimming events.

    She is one hell of a shot with a pistol. (Sucks on sporting clays.)

    The Army is looking in the wrong places: College female athletes who are financially troubled (my wife was a walk-on) and not quite good enough to make the Olympics.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 9:12 pm
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    Absolutely they wer given special treatment. Let me put it to you a different way. Say I’m 18 again and want to enlist. Say an 18 year old female is at MEPS with me and it is just her and I. We take the ASVAB and I score higher than her. Now this time I want to use my 110 GT score for computers. The femal also wants to go to computers but she got a 60 GT. Now as often happens they have one slot for computers but a whole bunch for infantry. Who do you think gets the computer enlistment? The female, I as a male can take infantry or nothing, or wait and hope I’m not bumped from the next computer MOS.

    Is this an extreme example? No it is the truth. Males can be forced into the infantry if they really want to enlist, females cannot. You want the tab go suck mud for a career, until then fuck off.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 7:59 pm
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    Yes, those of us that have served in the Army know this all to well, they have been giving breaks to females in Combat Arms MOS’s since the 1980’s, I saw it with my own eyes when i was in, but these so called Officers aren’t going to tell the media that and Ranger School is attended in most cases for promotion points or in the case of officers, just to get ahead a little faster, iv’e been following this off and on on facebook, specifically articles on the Army Times F/B page and this is the first iv’e seen that they are both Officers, it doesn’t surprise me any, i’ll tell you something else, if you’re a man, they don’t keep giving you chance after chance till you pass a phase of training, if you fail, you are washed out, sent back to your unit where you have to start the whole process all over again, that didn’t happen here, that in itself tells me that the standards weren’t the same. The liberal left has been using our Military as their own personal social experiment Petri dish ever since they started that don’t ask don’t tell crap and it hasn’t stopped yet, oh and if my comment makes me a knuckle-dragger, then i wear that title proudly.

    Reply

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