Copyright 2015 John T. Reed
A pilot and a military policewoman?
I just read in today’s paper about the branches of the two female rangers: aviation and military police. WTF?
The school’s purpose is to train leaders of foot patrols behind enemy lines (remember those?—you can see them in movies about World War II). No pilot or MP would ever do such a thing.
Uninhabited jungle only
In my article on ranger, I said you can’t use rangers or SEALs in a land area where there are dogs, farm animals (see my comments on Lone Survivor movie), or people who have lived there for years (See Clifton Clowers—https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVMlF9i2ffU)—which rules out most of the surface area of the planet Earth.
Infantry only—maybe signal corps
Arguably, only the infantry should go through the school. I was signal corps and maybe signal should go through, too. My first line unit assignment after West Point was to be the communications platoon leader in a parachute infantry battalion of the 82nd Airborne division. Although I think the unit would have to have been decimated for me to have been assigned to lead a patrol. I actually did lead one recon patrol in Vietnam—in a rear-area Signal Corps battalion! And I damned well used my Ranger Handbook to plan it.
Signal corps is an odd branch in that we were assigned to the battalions of the other branches. Armor (tanks) would have a signal corps platoon leader. So would artillery and engineers. But you would never see a tanker assigned to an infantry battalion. Infantry has artillery and Air Force FOs, but those are one guy, not a platoon, and they would never lead a patrol.
They have women West Point graduates in the artillery and engineers I believe. Why in the name of God would they send a pilot and an MP to ranger school? Apparently, it was just a diversity, “turn out the female vote for Democrats in 2016,” publicity stunt by the Army. The Army’s whining about their budget and the size of the Army being cut to pre-World War II levels and they have nothing better to do with their money and personnel than to send a pilot and an MP to ranger school—three times?
The politically-correct conclusion about the women in ranger school
A male West Pointer posted an article which I would say draws the politically-correct conclusion about the two women. http://rhinoden.rangerup.com/time-to-welcome-a-new-era-of-…/ I would not be surprised if the guy who wrote this is in politics or or office politics or plans to be. He was an instuctor at ranger school, so he would appear to be a lifer—like I said—in politics. One of his final sentences about the two women is, “And that’s exactly who I want leading our soldiers.”
Pilots don’t lead soldiers. They may eventually administrate lower-rank pilots, but they don’t lead soldiers. MP officers lead military policemen. They arrest soldiers—typically for being drunk. They don’t lead them. That new ranger would have profited more from from graduating from the FBI academy or the New York City police academy. To say these two women are who we “want leading our soldiers” requires ignoring their branches and military job descriptions. These two women were chosen for having extraordinary physical stamina for females, not so they could do a better job of “leading our soldiers.” They are “exactly who the Pentagon wants leading our politically-correct publicity stunt.”
My position is neither he nor I nor the wife of my West Point class president were there. And only those who were and who are willing to be candid are qualified to provide evidence as to whether the women got any sort of pass. Most who were there would NOT be willing to be candid because ranger school is a crucial ticket-punching exercise for lifers. They went there for their careers and they will say about the women only what will also help their careers.
They deserve 4 Oak Leaf Clusters on their tabs
What I will say is a version of what I have said before. Those poor women have been in ranger school—a two-month course—since April. They each ought to get a ranger tab with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters for that.
The Army keeps saying the hard part is passing the patrols. Bullshit. The hard part is just being there because of the forced marches and lack of sleep and food. I have seen no indication that the women got any more food or sleep or rucked any less than their male ranger classmates. If you want an objective measure, find out how much weight the women lost while they were there. Hell, after FIVE months of food and sleep deprivation and 10,000-meter-a-day marches, I would have thought they would be in intensive care.
My ranger classmates and I were there for two months. At the end we had lost an average of something like 25 pounds, and we were fit and trim when we arrived straight out of West Point. These two females were a first lieutenant who had done a combat tour since West Point and a pilot captain. We were all second lieutenants. After 60 days of it, our eyes were sunken in their sockets, our skin was pure white and wrinkled like when you are in the water too long, and our hands were covered with pock marks caused by a flesh-eating bacteria.
At that point, we went to Black Angus in Columbus and to sleep in our motel, and these two women went back to three more months of ranger school! They deserve a ton of credit for the physical stamina that took, albeit no damned credit at all for having a brain.
No one man or woman should go to ranger school. It is too dangerous—unnecessarily. There is too much time spent being starved and deprived of sleep and too little on actual training that the mind would be rested enough to absorb. And leading patrols behind enemy lines is borderline anachronistic.
Masochism for masochism’s sake
Army Ranger School, like SEAL training, is masochism for masochism’s sake. Army Ranger School and SEAL training are banging your head against a wall for months for no reason other than to later brag about how tough you are as evidenced by the fact that you banged your head against a a wall for months once upon a time. The motives for going to Army Ranger School are infantile. True, the Army officer corps has made having the tab a sine qua non for a “successful” career in a ticket-punch sense. But that is a reason NOT to make a career of the Army, not a reason to go to Ranger School.
So why did I ‘volunteer’ to go there?
Am I criticizing myself in the sense that I went there? Not so much. We had a complex calculation. I chose signal corps because I wanted to go to the Signal School in my home state of New Jersey for five months and invest in my first real estate while I was there—which I did—a duplex at 16 Harvard Avenue, Collingswood, NJ which I bought on April 15, 1969. All other branches had their schools in other states.
Signal Corps was considered one of the “combat arms” that year. Gee thanks, considering my first unit was an airborne infantry battalion. The rule was that all West Pointers who chose combat arms had to go to Ranger School—which will falsely tell you all ranger students are volunteers.
I could have chosen a non-combat arm like Military Intelligence or Finance or Transportation, but all that meant then is I would have been in the infantry for two years—during the Vietnam War—then, if I survived, I would have gone to my non-combat branch for my final three years in the Army before I got out. 3% of our class was killed in Vietnam—about triple the average for the whole army.
The stupid branch
At that time, the infantry was the stupid branch. When you joined the Army, you took a test. If you scored at the bottom, you were assigned to the infantry. In my West Point class, the bottom 70 guys were not allowed to choose their branch. They were forced into the infantry to meet an Army quota. The night that happened it was really creepy to be in that auditorium. Some of those 70 guys were killed in Vietnam—arguably because they did not study hard enough at West Point! It gave “devil take the hindmost” a whole new meaning.
Nowadays, the officers at West Point have conned the cadets to the extent that you have to be in the top of the class to choose infantry. WTF? again. I’ll bet they still assign the dumbest enlisted men to the infantry. Also, infantry, like the ranger tab, is now apparently a ticket punch for those who aspire to be Chief of Staff of the Army. That’s a reason not to be in the Army, not a reason to join the infantry. I would add that strategically, the infantry has not been a decisive military unit since World War II in Europe. The infantry, like Navy surface ships, is a nostalgia unit.
Lest my point be missed, I did not risk my life in Vietnam—for “freedom” we were told—to come back and live in a country where you may say only politically-correct things. Ranger School, the ordeal, is bullshit. The Army is bullshit as currently operated. Sending a female pilot and a female MP, who are not allowed to serve in the infantry, to Ranger School is diversity publicity-stunt bullshit. And the politically correct can shove that bullshit up their craven asses.
A month or so later, a third West Point graduate woman got her ranger tab. She is a 37-year-old reservist in the engineer branch (construction). She began with the other two, but flunked one or two more times than they did.
Bottom line: the effort to get women to become ranger qualified appears to exceed the value of it by far. I remind you that my West Point classmates and my non-West Point ranger school classmates almost all took just two months to get our tabs. Back then, you got one shot and if you flunked, you were permanently done as far as I know. Plus, wanting to go through it again would have been evidence of insanity.