Category Archives: Rangers and Rangerettes

Rangerettes: What They’re Doing Now; Tom Kratman Called It

Rangerette 6We have been around and around on this, but while we’re waiting for the 8 miserable recycled female survivors (and some dozens of their male peers) to reflow into the Camp Darby phase of Ranger Class 7-15 after bouncing out of 6-15, we have a few other relevant things, things we should have covered previously but haven’t.

Today, Life Sucks for the Women of Class 6-15. And the Men.

For the moment, spare a thought for the unhappy recycles, who must survive the Gulag’s daily harassment (“reinforcement training”) until their inject date to 7-15 comes up.   (One suspects that the presence of the 31 Observer Advisors and whatever rump media are still following the surviving gals moderates it some, in the case of the women). One of the biggest things tormenting them is the self-doubt in every heart, and the knowledge that a second chance at a single phase is probably all you get. (There may be an exception for the women, as there have been so many exceptions made already, but we’re sure no one has told them that). And each one knows, in his or her heart, that they’ve already blown it, already failed, once.

Somewhere in each little would-be Ranger brain is a voice whispering words of failure. Success depends on their ability to suppress that voice, to strangle the little doubtnik speaking those words. That is a highly individual thing, in a class where you’re graded individually, but also graded, by your instructors and your similarly stressed peers, on your teamwork.

The Army has studied for years the candidates and graduates of this program, hoping that something in personality inventories and psychometrics can predict who will fail and who will pass. They have never really succeeded, and one of the reasons is that in each man (and now, woman), the war of self against self, of doubt against determination, is fought anew each day.

For two months.

Unless you recycle, then the battle lasts longer.


Class 6-15: Getting smoked!

Right now, the recycles are being smoked by Ranger instructors. (“Smoked” is a Ranger verb, that, like the Ranger cry “Hooah!”, has spread across the Army and on into culture. A couple years ago we had a household contractor say, “This is how we’re going to fix that, hooah?” Knew he was one of Our People. Fixing old rickety stuff on Hog Manor had him smoked).

Tom Kratman Actually Called the 6-15 Results Before it Started

We have missed some developments and some materials about the whole Rangerette thing that are still worth sharing. We’ll get in a moment to the often-cited Israeli experience (which is more mixed than either “side” in America wants to admit), but first, we have to doff berets (the real, earned kind) to Hugo-nominated Novelist Tom Kratman, who in a column at called the outcome for the women in Class 6-15 before the first one signed in to the RTB.

So now what’s going to happen? I am not sure how far along the Army is in coming up with those hopeful three-score. They’ve got their Zampolits, the female political commissars tasked with ensuring the doubleplussungood, gender-cisnormative, evilwickednaughtybadbadbad males running the school can’t be too hard on the women going through it. I have it on pretty good authority that, on being told they’d have to cut their hair very short,3 the Zampolits either became upset, or freaked out, or came totally unglued. Allegedly, too, the women were extremely interested in what types of birth control would be allowed.

As we know now, the Ranger head shave was relaxed for the women, who received about a 3/8 or 7/16 inch buzz.

One can almost sympathize. The amount of hair a male soldier finds comfortable and flattering for himself will come back in a few weeks. For women, it’s a matter of years. And the hair’s more important to them, generally, too, early rock musicals notwithstanding.

Exercise for the reader (heteronormative trigger alert, heh). If we were to go into your master bathroom, and count hair care items, what would the F/M ratio be? We’ve never tried to add it up. Hognose here owns one bottle of shampoo at a time, and might use soap for a week before remembering to buy another bottle.

I can’t imagine the Army giving a rat’s patootie about what kind of birth control the Zampolits use. If any actual female ranger students are going to worry about it I’d suggest they’ll be very, very optimistic. More on that, and related factors, later in this column.

One subject of discussion back in the dawn of time in Class 1-83, long about Florida phase, was (crudity coming) “Does anybody remember when he last had a woody?” This caused a momentary panic, and worry about whether this capability would ever return to these men, aged 19-33 with a few outliers high and low, for whom the said biological reaction was a frequent fact in daily life. You’re way, way past sexual fantasies at that point. The most common subject of discussion was what you’re going to eat afterwards. These food fantasies would be appalling to normal, well-fed Americans (our recollection follows):

“I’m going to the McDonalds drive through and order one of everything.”

“I’m gonna eat a whole lobster. Shell and all. With two pounds of butter.”

“Hey, think of this, guys…. just imagine the smell. I’m going to go to a bakery.

(Chorus): “Mmmmmmm, a bakery.

The faces light with religious fervor. If only they knew the direction of this bakery, they’s shoot a azimuth to it and prostrate themselves.

(Continued after the break).

Continue reading

Some Analysis Based on Rangerette Facts

Let’s begin with some numbers, to remind you of how this experiment is going so far. Bear in mind that these are not average women soldiers: they are among the Army’s boldest and most ambitious women. In many cases, their commanders and peers of both sexes consider them outstanding soldiers. Many of these women assess themselves as being the equals in fitness and strength of their male peers. Every one of these young ladies put herself in the arena, and that’s worth something. It doesn’t get them a Ranger tab, yet, but it gets them some respect.

Can he really whip her with one hand behind his back?

Can he really whip her with one hand behind his back?

Women by the Numbers

138: Number of women that attended the National Guard pre-ranger course, spread over many cycles. This course is normally not open to active-duty men, and only exists because the Guard believes its people need more preparation for the course. Army managers were looking for 100 women graduates from this course to feed the first co-ed Ranger iteration

20: Women that passed the course. Normally about half the men pass, but there’s a lot of variation. Cramming more women into the last couple of iterations of pre-Ranger just produced more failures, not more successes.

19: Women that started in Ranger School, after one quit after passing pre-Ranger).

16: Women that remained in after the first hour, after three failed the PT test.

8: Women that proceeded to Camp Darby, after 5 others attritted for various reasons in RAP Week (quit/injury/ruck march).

6: Women that failed Camp Darby, and were recycled by a Battalion level Board.

2: Women that failed Camp Darby, and were recycled by a Brigade level Board.

0: Women continuing in training.

8: Women in the Gulag (holding barracks) where they, along with the men recycled in Darby and RAP week, will receive additional training (and, frankly, hazing) before being reinjected in the next Ranger School class.

Comparison figures for men:

381: Men who started at Day Zero.

197: Men who quit, or failed, or were recycled in RAP Week. (66 will be recycled, the rest, 131, were binned).

184: Men continued on to Camp Darby.

115: Men completed Camp Darby and proceeded to Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, GA. 69 men failed Darby, 35 of whom the boards chose to recycle and 34 of whom were dismissed from the course.

101: men in the Gulag with the women (66+35).

How the Women Failed

The principal grading vehicle once the field part of the course begins, through Darby, Dahlonega and Eglin, is the patrol. Many students who do not come from an infantry background are new to patrolling, and they sink or swim in Darby. If you have failed all patrols in a phase, you are not supposed to go forward. (Passing requirements: 50% of graded patrol leadership positions “Go,” at least four “Go” grades total, and one “Go” minimum in each phase. The percentage requirement is cumulative, but is erased by a recycle, for that phase). Of the eight women at Camp Darby, none had a passing patrol grade (a couple were close). A lot of men were in the same boat. Absent other problems (peers, spot reports, etc.) flunking all your patrols at Darby means you get to experience Darby again with the next Ranger class — recycle. But you are considered by the battalion Board, and if you have managed to collect other derogatory information, you may be recycled to Day Zero, or ejected from the course.

The next most significant is the peer report. As we have reported, the students will often game the peer report to ensure no one in their squad is “peered out.” Unless they have a message to send about a peer’s performance… then they unleash themselves to dispose of the problem member(s). Most of the women had positive peer reports. But two of them had extremely low peer ratings. The battalion board would not pass these women, so their cases were considered by the Ranger Training Brigade Board.

The board also opted to recycle these women to the start of Darby Phase in the next class. Historically, a man who failed both patrols and peers would be returned to his source unit (or in the case of an initial-pipeline officer, moved to whatever training his branch had for him next, or to his permanent party). There have been occasional exceptions for such natural-born Rangers as General Officers’ sons or people with politically powerful individuals providing “pull,” so it’s not as if the system is completely pure, historically.

Several of the women had other issues (negative spot reports, etc.) but the primary reason none of them left Darby for Dahlonega is that none of them passed patrols.

What do these facts and numbers mean?

OK, so we know that 8 women were considered for recycle, and recycled. 69 males were considered for recycle, and slightly over half recycled (35 recycled, 34 dropped). Does this mean that that the gals have it easy? Or does the fact that they were all on the recycle bubble to start with mean that the gals have it hard? You can, and partisans will, argue either side.

The commissars suggested that patrol grading is unfair to women as they have not had the exposure to patrolling that the plurality of Ranger candidates, who are infantrymen, have had. But it is no more unfair to women than it is to men who come in from MI, the Quartermaster Corps, or any of the other combat support and service support branches of the Army. (They too flunk patrols at a higher rate than grunts). But grunts can and do flunk patrols, too. Indeed, there are some hardheaded guys who come from Ranger Battalions and managed to get recycled in every phase before finally going back with a tab. They did more Ranger School than anybody!

You can make a statistical argument that the grading is unfair to women. (After all, 100% of women did not pass Darby, and 62.5% of men who started it did). You can also make an argument that the recycling has been unfair to men. (After all, 100% of women failures got a recycle, and only 51% of men did).

We reject both of those statistical arguments. Individual Ranger students are extremely variable from one to the next, and even individuals themselves vary in their quality over time. The guys that shine in Darby may be utterly spent by the time you hit Santa Rosa Island; leaders emerge after much hardship from men you wouldn’t have expected to step up). We are willing to give the RTB and its leaders and RIs the benefit of the doubt that they are judging individuals as individuals.

As far as the questionable decision to allow people whose low peer reports are suggestive of deficient character to continue in the course, there may be good reasons for it. One reason the Army is doing this evaluation is to answer a question that everyone has an opinion about, but nobody’s gathered facts: can women do it, without lowering standards?

That women are failing patrols suggests that standards haven’t been lowered there, anyway. And the Army may be taking great care to ensure that all course dismissals are defensible with a view to objective standards, and therefore isn’t anxious to dismiss any of these women candidates for what their patrons in Congress, the Feminist Sisterhood, or the media can construe as subjective reasons. Not that facts will stop them, but some Army managers seem to have a touching, childlike belief that they will.

Some Rangerette Myths

There is a barrage of propaganda coming out of the Ranger School. There could be nothing but, with every one of the surviving female students — eight at the end of the first week — shadowed by a Corps of Commissars who broadly (no pun intended) outnumber the female Ranger candidates1, and a media scrum that nearly outnumbers all the Ranger candidates.

Rangerette 5

There have been some myths spread about this class. In the interests of further factual information, here’s some debunkistry.

Myth: women are doing better than men, percentage-wise, in this class.

Fact: They’re not, even when you don’t account for the fact that some of the 8 survivors are being propped up. Remember that these women are the distillation of a pipeline of over 130 candidates, who got extra training no active-duty men can even apply for.

Myth: the Army has made no concessions to the women.

Fact: the concessions are many, ranging from the trivial (women’s hair is cut short, but not shaved like the men) to the serious (women are given extra chances and talked out of quitting; minor negative spot reports aren’t allowed to build up against them).

Rangerette 4

Myth: the women are a cross-section of Army women.

Fact: the women are a small, self-selected cadre of ambitious careerists. It is our understanding that all are officers.

Rangerette 1

Myth: As women increase their presence in combat units, they’ll be more likely to be raped. Because men in combat arms are “predators.” This is what Defense Secretary Ash Carter told an audience of ROTC cadets recently:

Obviously, as we get women into more unaccustomed positions, maybe dangerous isolated positions, maybe positions where they are fewer in relation to the number of men, it opens up opportunities for predators

Fact: You’re joking, right? Ash Carter makes Joe Biden look like the Great Gravitas Himself. He has no military experience whatsoever, and if he ever came out of the ivory tower, when he saw his own shadow we’d have six more weeks of winter. It’s not surprising he says stupid [stuff]. He didn’t stop there, either. He also hinted to the cadets that he intends to open all positions to women when the review is complete in 2016.

Meanwhile, Carter has quietly withdrawn 1,900 soldiers, 38 Black Hawk slicks, 12 medevac Black Hawks, as 12 heavy-lift Chinooks and 28 Apache attack helicopters from Europe to the United States as part of his unilateral drawdown of US forces worldwide. Instead, smaller elements will deploy for a few months at a time. A DOD spokesman insisted that less was more:

The net result of this restructuring is that Army aviation assets in Europe will be more ready, present, and operationally flexible. This is particularly important in the current strategic environment.

Our forces in Europe will be more ready, present, and flexible, hooah! They just won’t be in Europe!

In other news from the DOD, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia.

If Ash Carter diminishes American air capability in Europe any further, he can expect Hermann Göring’s ghostly shade to manifest itself, and bestow on him the German Cross in Gold, the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, or some other high decoration.

These guys seem like harmless, amusing buffoons, until you realize that some one has plucked them out of their cozy libraries and put them in charge of complex systems they don’t understand.


  1. There are 31 female Commissars, or as they are officially called, Observer/Advisors. The course began with 19 women. Currently, there are roughly 4 OAs watching out for each woman. The number will rise as the women attrit further.

Would-be Rangerettes Factual Update

Ranger Training Brigade scrollWe’ll try to at-ease our cisgendered heteronormative patriarchal opinionating for this post and just address the facts as they exist so far.

The Ranger pipeline for men includes preparation at their own troop unit (or training station in the case of men who are in initial entry training), a briefing by a Ranger-qualified officer or NCO, a PT test to Ranger standards, and a volunteer statement. Contrary to common belief, not all Ranger students are parachute qualified, but the vast majority of them are, and the qualified soldiers will conduct up to three combat equipment jumps during the course. (The schedule is tight so the jumps can weather out). Parachute-qualified Rangers are allowed five hours sleep the night before a jump for safety reasons. That’s the longest stretch of sleep anyone gets in the two-month course, which is recognizably the same as it was at the time of its establishment circa 1950.

Having women in the pipeline has required some changes to the physical plant and schedule, but they are minor, for example, providing women’s toilet facilities and increasing the time for personal hygiene — slightly.

The military officers and NCOs assigned to this include both people who are known yes-men, and people who are not and who are sworn to uphold Ranger standards. (One example of the latter: CSM Jeff Mellinger).

The Ranger Pipeline for women takes advantage of the pre-Ranger course, the Army National Guard’s Ranger Training Assessment Course (RTAC), which was established to give reserve component soldiers some conditioning and psychological preparation for the Ranger School environment (it was established because RC soldiers were failing at a higher rate). Several RTAC iterations were opened to women with the hopes of getting 100 female volunteers ready for the first co-ed Ranger course this month. That number was not achieved for several reasons, including but not limited to:

  1. Fewer women volunteered for Ranger training that Army leaders anticipated;
  2. Fewer women passed RTAC than anticipated.

Most men who attend RTAC pass. Of 138 women who started RTAC, 19 passed, but it’s interesting how those numbers came to pass. The first several iterations of co-ed RTAC involved 77 women volunteers, but only 12 passed (16%) despite encouragement, the Corps of Commissars, etc. Moreover, one of the five women who passed the very first RTAC iteration then voluntarily withdrew. Her reasons are unknown to us.

ranger_school_signThe command made two attempts to increase the numbers, with only one more RTAC class available before the first coed Ranger class. First, a record 61 female volunteers were crammed into the last-chance RTAC. Secondly, the VW, or quitter, was persuaded to un-quit, an opportunity that’s never been offered to a Ranger candidate before. Again, we do not know the circumstances of this decision, or why that unique accommodation was made, or even who did the persuading. That’s all a black box, despite the presence of media shadowing the female candidates. We only know that it was done.

The idea of trebling the female input to RTAC, to increase the output, certainly seems logical, but doesn’t seem to have worked. Of the 61 candidates, only seven did not fail, medically drop, or quit. This was a pass rate of only 11% of this group, with an overall pass rate of 14% for all female RTAC candidates (19/138).

Aside: a word on fail/drop/quit. On one level those mean the same thing: the candidate is out of the course. On another level, they don’t, usually. A student who voluntarily withdraws (i.e., quits) an Army course is generally discouraged from returning, if not banned outright. (SF does this in its courses with the dreaded “NTR Letter,” telling the student he’s Never To Return. Tim McVeigh is probably the most famous recipient of an NTR Letter; most if not all VWs, all honor-violation drops, and some truly hopeless failures get the NTR). A student who fails, though, usually faces no such discrimination and can opt to attend the course again in the future. For officer students, this can sometimes be done on an Army quota while doing a change of station, but units are loath to use their limited number of Ranger School slots on a soldier who’s already failed once, when there are always more good troops wanting a slot than there are slots to hand out.  Medical drops can always come back if they can recover from their illness or injury, and can get a slot and time in their schedule. There are other rare administrative drops (for example, death in the immediate family) that are also not held against the candidate in the way that quitting or even failure is.

That left 19 plucky female Ranger candidates in the first formation of Ranger Class 06-15 that began on 20 April 2015. Most (all?) of them were officers. By the end of that first day, three women had failed. The three failed the PT test, as did a large number of men, mostly men that had not had RTAC preparation.

PT Test Attrition

This failure of PT tests, which have a widely publicized standard, generally results from the fact that at Ranger School the test is graded with scrupulous adherence to the standards in Army field manuals; at troop units, a soldier (of either sex) may get away with merely bobbing his or her head and wiggling arms a little, and getting that thing counted as a push-up. At Ranger school, a cadre member will be counting these repetitions: “Zero… zero… zero…” and by the time the candidate figures out that what passed for a push-up at the fo-fo’ty-fo’th mo-po doesn’t fly at Harmony Church, he or she may be too weak to do the requisite number of real push-ups.

The students (male and female) have had to meet the following standards:

  • 49 push-ups to Army standard
  • 59 sit-ups, ditto
  • 6 pull-ups
  • 5 mile run in 40 minutes even

3 of 19 women (16%) and 78 of 381 men (20%) failed this test on the first day. (Something doesn’t add up in these numbers from the Army, as only 399 roster numbers were initially assigned to class members, and 381+19=400. But they’re the figures we got, and the ones that were on the Chief of Staff’s briefing slide — you bet he’s watching this).

Other RAP Week Attrition

The first week of Ranger School (the first four days, really) is called RAP Week (Ranger Assessment Phase). It’s a combination of check-the-box tests and gut checks that makes sure that the students here really want to be here, and are really ready to tackle the course. Hisorically, many aren’t, as the normal 15-20% attrition on PT tests shows.

This young soldier is a ROTC Candidate at Maryland, but she's showing the combat water survival swim in ACUs with rifle.

This young soldier is a ROTC Candidate at Maryland, but she’s showing the combat water survival swim in ACUs with rifle.

Other attrition generators in this phase of Ranger school include a short swim (15 feet or so) in uniform with a rubber rifle, Ranger Runs and rucksack marches. The principal ruck attrition comes from a 12-mile ruck march with a nerf ruck (35 pounds), that must be completed as an individual in under three hours. Some short-legged people need to jog to do that, but it’s certainly not a physical challenge for anyone in infantry shape, and the fall-outs are generally the injured and/or people who were not remotely prepared for the course in the first place (for comparison’s sake, junior enlisted coming from the Ranger Regiment’s operational battalions, NCOs coming from Special Forces and other SOF elements, and junior officers in the initial infantry training pipeline never fail this event). There is a written test that also causes some failures, but it is unlikely to trip up these women, who as officers are already selected for above-average intelligence.

Three of the female candidates failed the initial land-nav exercise (so did a number of men, but we do not have the number). Normally there is an end-of-week retest (without retraining) available; we do not know if the commissars are providing retraining to the female failures.

With the ruck march a significant contributor to attrition, five more females failed other RAP Week events, leaving 8 to continue in the school. They must complete all events, not get injured, and take at least four graded patrol leadership positions, and pass half of the ones that they take. (Squared-away students may graduate with four patrols, but ones that struggle to lead will get more and more leadership positions up until the class ends in hopes of dragging them above 50%, or at least teaching them something. Word is that any female candidate that gets above 50% will be exempted from further graded positions, but this is not very different from what happens with the men).

Overall pass rate for men in the pipeline is 40-50%. Our pass rate for the ladies so far can be no higher than 8/138 or 6%, about 1/7 of the overall male pass rate, despite command emphasis on getting them through.

Of this class’s women, 11 of 19 have already failed, dropped or VWd, or 58%, and 8 of 19, or 42%, continued in training after four days. There are 59 days left in the course.

GIs in Red Heels: Cadet Command Responds

Nope, not to us. To, where they knew a friendly reporter (one Bryant Jordan) would spin it as best as could be done. And he complied. Still, there’s more than a whiff of Combs’s CYA in this statement.

While ROTC command acknowledged that units were told to take part in the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it “did not direct how the units would participate,” command spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick said in a statement.

“We are currently gathering facts in order to review how local ROTC units implemented their participation in these events designed to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault,” he said.

1347531Cadets with Arizona State University’s ROTC unit also took part in the walk/run there, many donning heels but not their uniforms.

Photos from the ASU ROTC Facebook page show that that last sentence/paragraph above is a falsehood, as two minutes on the net would have told Bryant Jordan. So he had the story pre-written and/or didn’t spend those two minutes fact-checking it, and neither did his “layers and layers of editors,” or the high-heels-in-uniform pictured of Sun Devil battalion cadre and cadets would, one hopes, have caught his eye.

This statement from the mouthpiece Haverstick tells you where the Command is going with this: they’re going to deny, deny, deny and throw the commanders of the individual cadet battalions under the bus.

(Aside: thanks for sending us the names and numbers of the Cadet Command SHARP commissars. You know who you are. Although the temptation to turn those numbers and email addresses loose on the Internet is strong, we don’t think our side wins by flooding the inboxes of low-level flunkies. They already know we don’t like them: that’s why they’re trying to destroy us).

Women in Combat Update: USMC/Ranger School

rangerette-benjaminThe Army and Marines took different approaches to the orders to integrate women into ground combat units. The Marines resolved to test it, and see if it was feasible.

The Army declared it feasible, and resolved to remove any obstacles in the way of it happening.

In the end, of course, both of them are going to do what their civilian masters tell them to do, and their civilian masters have formed their opinion of what is possible on the battlefield from watching “lady ninja” movies.

The Marine Women-in-IOC Experiment is Over… for now

USMC EGA eagle globe and anchorThe Marines ran a test for 2½ years on women in their most prestigious combat positions. The results are all in: they couldn’t get all the 100 volunteers they wanted, and of the nearly 30 volunteers they got, all failed. 26 or 27 of them failed the first day on the first event, the fitness test.

The way the USMC tested the waters, you see, was by allowing volunteer women into the Infantry Officer Course, but requiring them to meet the existing standards. The Marines see their existing officer standards as perfectly satisfactory: the proof is in the combat success of the Corps’ infantry units, and the generally high regard that enlisted Marines, They now consider the experiment over, but for reduction of the data, but these data send no subtle message. Here are the results as seen by a media booster of women in combat, Gannett’s Marine Corps Times:

The testing period ends with just 27 female volunteers having attempted the course. Two other female officers also attempted the course as part of required ground intelligence officer training. The 0203 ground intelligence officer military occupational specialty was opened to female officers in late 2013, with IOC as a qualification requirement for applicants. None of the 29 female officers made it to the end of the course.

While IOC is closing to volunteers, female applicants for ground intelligence officer positions will continue to attend the course in the future, Krebs said.

Officials have said that ongoing research will consider many aspects of temporarily integrating IOC, including the number of volunteers, their pass rate, and performance in the course. That data will be taken alongside other research points, including the much higher success rate for enlisted female Marines in passing the Infantry Training Battalion course at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. As of February, 358 women had attempted the course, with 122 graduates, for a pass rate of 34 percent.

Tentative conclusion: the Marines probably could tighten things up at the ITB course. Either that, or the Marines are deliberately maintaining a large delta in difficulty, between their enlisted and leadership courses. It’s almost like they wanted their leaders to be good, or something un-American like that.


It’s unlikely that the DACOWITS commissioners, the media pundits, and various other ex-officio members of the lesbo-feminist Sisterhood will be happy with the Marines’ likely conclusions. The question then becomes, will the Administration, and zero-time-under-rucksack SecDef Ashton Carter, a plush Beltway insider, order the Marines to change their conclusions?

The Army Women in Ranger School Experiment Begins in Days

RangerTabUnlike the Marines, the Army started not with an inviolate standard but with smoke and mirrors designed to obscure a double standard. Rather than just asking for volunteers, the Army has offered many inducements to volunteers and has done everything but scatter roses in their paths. Officers have been assigned to supervise the experiment, and they know their careers hinge on its “success,” as the Beltway Egalitocracy might define “success.” Numerous measures have been taken to prepare the women candidates to succeed. These include but are not limited to:

  • A special “pre-Ranger” course that was set up to address Guard and Reserve attrition levels at Ranger has become the “Women’s Prep” course;
  • A cadre of commissars has been assigned to shadow female candidates, ensure their success, and prevent any “unfairness,” undefined;
  • Women who quit were bucked up and reinserted into training, if at all possible, in the interests of data gathering;
  • Women who failed a requirement, likewise. They did not pass, but unlike the males who failed they were not removed from training.
  • In addition to the commissars, women are being shadowed and encouraged by Army brass and media crews.

The Army has planned to run ran four iterations of the commissar-shadowed, Ranger Assessment Course:

26 women began training.
20 of 26 failed the PT test (push-ups) (5 men did). The women alone remained in training.
1 quit (9 men quit) — removed from training
8 dropped for medical reasons (4 men) — removed from training
1 Women dropped for SOR (1 Male Dropped) — removed from training
16 still present at end of course: 11 failures/ 5 graduates

Total pool of potential RS attendees: 5

17 women began training. 15 failed the PT test (pushups) but remained in training.
5 dropped for failing to meet course standards (36 Males dropped)
3 quit (8 men quit) — removed from training
2 dropped for medical reasons (3 men)
7 still present at end of course: 6 failures/ 1 graduate

Total pool of potential RS attendees: 6
One quit (technically, Voluntarily Withdrew) from Ranger School for unknown reasons.
Total pool of potential RS attendees: 5

RTAC 3 (just concluded)
~28 women began training. 21 failed the PT test but remained in training.
Detailed stats not available yet, but ~15 still present at end of course with 6-7 graduates.

Total pool of potential RS attendees: 11-12?

RTAC 4 (started 10 April)
“Most” of the women failed the first day. They remained in training.

Total pool of potential RS attendees: 13-18?

One thing that the instructors of the course have noted is that the womens’ performance really collapses when they have to conduct training under the rucksack. Ranger School rucksacks and RS loads in general are not heavy by Ranger, SOF or infantry standards, comprising some 65 pounds of combat and survival gear. But they’re very hard on debilitated, malnourished, and sleep-deprived Ranger students.

The first sex-integrated Ranger School class begins, rather appropriately, on April 20. We’ve heard that the Commissars will monitor the peer reporting system to make sure that it is not used to single out females for criticism. Whether that criticism is mere sex-based prejudice or performance-related does not seem to be a factor.

Rangerettes are Official: Coming This Spring

rangerette-benjaminIt was not announced in a press conference. It was not put on the Army’s home page, and was kept off the Army’s news page, and there’s certainly nothing on the Army media page. But an official Army statement was selectively, furtively emailed by shifty and underhanded Honor Code failure PR functionary LTC Courtney Massengale Ben Garrett to “friendly” media, announcing that the first women will be attending, and graduating, Ranger School in April.

One of those friendly reporters, Gannett/Army Time’s Michelle Tan, quoted Garrett as follows (note obligatory sucking up to the political boss):

Secretary of the Army John McHugh approved the participation of both men and women in … Ranger Course 06-15, which is scheduled to begin on April 20, 2015. The course has approximately 60 women scheduled to participate. Those who meet the standards and graduate from the course will receive a certificate and be awarded the Ranger tab.

The standards have been evaluated and will be lowered where necessary, but ALCON will deny that any standards were lowered. They are calling this an “assessment” and when the “assessment” is complete and its success is announced, they will move forward into the bright sunlit uplands of making room for the next group of “victims,” those confused or mistaken about what sex they are. Such is progress in the Year of Our Lord 2015.

Coddling of the women attendees includes a pre-ranger prep course, and a shadowy sisterhood made of dozens of appointed female commissars called “observer/advisors” who are to mentor, encourage, (and not incidentally, prevent male instructors from giving failing grades to), the Unique and Special Snowflakes. The commissars do not have to attend Ranger School themselves. Good intentions suffice, and good intentions are defined by their conformity with what the suits in the E-ring, and the generals purring in their laps, desire.

Soon available in ladies' sizes....

Soon available in ladies’ sizes….

In related news, the Army has a codeword for the current drawdown and layoffs: Operation Bold Shift. No word on whether PR princeling Ben Garrett was involved in that other pathetic naming decision, too, but Orwell would have made note of it.

In accordance with Operation Bold Shift, First Army’s Department of the Army directed plan to reduce force structure will reduce First Army’s training brigades from 16 to nine by 2016.

Bold shift, indeed. These are training units, but the “Bold Shift” — Gad, it gags us to say it — axe does not spare combat formations.

How about telling the truth, and calling it Operation Thank God There Are Still Marines? Because the Army seems to have made the institutional decision to just quit.

We told you when we first wrote of the Rangerette decision that the fix was in (we also told you that it was happening in Fiscal Year 2013. What delayed it was the Army’s laggardly personnel bureaucracy more than anything. Some excerpts from that first message that are still valid:

Current Ranger graduates, Ranger veterans, and the Ranger units and Ranger training establishment were never consulted about the decision. Officers who argued against it in Pentagon meetings have already been dismissed or shunted into career-ending punishment assignments.

The RTB has not been directed that all female candidates must pass regardless of performance, and Ranger Instructors will retain a limited ability to dismiss an individual underperforming woman from the course, as long as “enough” women remain to please the higher-ups. But they will have to justify every dismissal to the highest levels of command, who have made their intention clear. Regardless of performance, the majority of women attendees must pass — at least as high a graduating percentage as the men in the same class. For the first time in Ranger history, graduation will be guaranteed — for some.

And that was before the creation of the Corps of Commissars.

Currently, the RTB closely monitors candidate performance at the school…

That post had detailed statistics about timing and causes of attrition in the Ranger Course. You may rest assured that the statistics from this course will not be made public. In fact, the attrition numbers are to be treated as classified, with only select excerpts of the numbers — whatever looks most like success — to be trickled out by the Army’s cabal of oxygen thieves hordes of PR officers. As far as those actually conducting the course, this statement is still valid.

The instructors and cadre have been advised that any public statement is a career ender, and those that have spoken to have done so at considerable personal career risk. Their input wasn’t sought beforehand, and it sure as hell isn’t wanted now.

Note that none of our 2012 sources are still at RTB, which is not the same thing as saying that we have no sources at RTB.

If physical fitness standards are sex-normed for the women, as Army standards overall are, and women are carefully preselected (trained up in land nav, only strong swimmers) then they can get past that initial 60% drop and have a decent chance of passing. Right now, the plan is for women officers only, and for them to have as much as a two month train-up prior to the course. If the women beat the 50% attrition rate of men, expect a publicity blitz. Some attrition means the initial 5 to 8 in the first class will be winnowed down to a publicity-friendly 3 or 4 junior-officer graduates, a number of whom are likely to be “legacies” of military families and already fast-tracked for promotion.

It looks like instead of that plan they’ll have a single large cadre, officer-heavy if not exclusively officers, of women preselected for success. They will graduate in whatever percentage is preordained. And they will feel like they’ve worked hard and accomplished something huge, but the fix is in.

Marine Women Continue to Excel… Just Not Enough

rangerette-benjaminTwo more women Marines failed to meet the standard at the Infantry Officer Course and were binned on the first day — along with fifteen of their male counterparts. They will be reassigned to other specialties based on their preferences and the needs of the Corps. 101 other officers, all men, continued in the course. If the past is a guide, not all of them will be in the graduation formation.

For those keeping score, twenty-something women have attempted the course, some of them more than once, and four have made it past the first day. One has lasted more than a week. Zero have passed. In the intelligence business, we used to call this “an indicator;” you can write that down.

This persistent failure of the available women to meet the criterion-referenced standards has engendered, no pun intended, Congressional and media pressure for the Marines to lower the standards to meet the available women. We can’t see that as anything but an implicit statement that the careers of individual careerist women officers are more important than the extant standards, and the reason for the standards, which is: competent combat forces.

Two female Marine officers who volunteered to attempt the Corps’ challenging Infantry Officer Course did not proceed beyond the first day of the course, a Marine Corps spokesperson confirms to the Free Beacon. The two were the only female officers attempting the course in the current cycle, which began Thursday in Quantico, Virginia.

With the two most recent drops, there have been 29 attempts by female officers to pass the course since women have been allowed to volunteer, with none making it to graduation. (At least one woman has attempted the course more than once.) Only four female officers have made it beyond the initial day of training, a grueling evaluation known as the Combat Endurance Test, or CET. Male officers also regularly fail to pass the CET, and the overall course has a substantial attrition rate for males.

The Marine Corps spokesperson, Captain Maureen Krebs, told the Free Beacon that the two officers, “did not meet the standards required of them on day one in order to continue on with the course.” Fifteen male officers also did not meet the standards. Of the 118 officers who began the course, 101 proceeded to the second day.

via EXCLUSIVE: Two More Female Marines Dropped from Infantry Course | Washington Free Beacon.

Aside: Ever notice that, while infantrymen are always men, spokes-persons for the military are always women? Young, attractive women? That’s because a PR dolly is a PR dolly, uniformed or not.

In any event, the Free Beacon’s Aaron MacLean nails the problem: if the Marines are ordered to do something stupid, they will salute and carry out the order to the best of their ability. So will the other services.

The Marine Corps is in a tough spot. Marines follow orders, and the order is to integrate the genders. But the effort to integrate has revealed something that is uncomfortable for proponents of reform: Keeping the traditionally high standards of the Marine infantry will result in a situation where there are a handful of enlisted female Marines in every infantry battalion, and effectively no female infantry officers.

Actually, as we understand it, the young women who have passed the infantry course are getting a notation in their files, but are not being assigned to infantry units, yet.

Pressure will become tremendous to reduce those standards–something that the overwhelming majority of Marines, including those women who currently wish to serve in the infantry, believe would be damaging to the service.

But those same politicians and media mavens who are so intent on diminishing the combat power of the Marines in pursuit of equality of outcomes, breathe free air every day because they have a competent Marine Corps standing between them and the various limits placed on subjects and defeated peoples everywhere.

Meanwhile, the Army continues its program of female integration by stealth, in the shadows and away from the public eye. Unlike the Marines, the Army has little institutional capital invested in high standards and has no qualms about lowering them, and in its senior officers, it has men who will not wait for the order, but will compete to see who can ingratiate himself the most with his masters.

The SIG Brace / Not a Stock / ATF Letter Trip

donovan leitch 1967Remember the old Donovan song? Eh, unless you’re like us, old enough to remember the introduction of that new “dirt” stuff, maybe you don’t. The trippy 60s songwriter sang the very zen line:

First, there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.
First, there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

To which we’ve always mumbled, “Don’t take the brown acid….” (Sorry, another cultural flashback). Anyway, Donovan’s flickering mountain is a bit like the various ATF letters explaining their attitude to arm braces on AR pistols over the last couple of years, since they first provided a Firearms Technology Branch blessing to the Sig Brace.


First, it was a stock that made the gun an SBR, then it wasn’t a stock, then it was.
Then, it wasn’t a stock that made the gun an SBR, then it was a stock, then it wasn’t.

We’re not sure what to make of the ATF apparently taking up the recreational herbs and spices of the Sunshine Superman his ownself, but we’ve been whipsawed by the letters and haven’t written about them. Regulatory stuff is kind of boring, at least until ATF shows up looking for someone to feed their stats machine and settles on you. (And trust us on this: every Federal law enforcement agency has a stats machine, and it looks just like the one in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.)

Fortunately, the Prince Law Firm’s blog has been on it, and these guys are, like, real lawyers with bar cards, and ostentatious diplomas, and continuing education credits, and everything. Adam Kraut, Esq:

Well, it appears very clear that FTISB and ATF as a whole are paying very close attention to what people are doing and how they are utilizing products, including reviewing internet postings, pictures and videos. All of the stabilization/cheek enhancement products on the market have a legitimate purpose and have assumedly been approved by FTISB at some point. But, it appears that some individuals are not looking to purchase these products for their legitimate purpose and use and instead intentionally intend to misuse them from the moment they are purchased.

As was noticeably absent in the letter discussed in my blog post Cinderella and ATF’s Determination: The Fairy Tale of an AR Pistol to SBR through Magic, this letter does mention intent, in fact several times.

ATF didn’t appreciate people purchasing various stabilization products/cheek weld enhancements for the purpose of avoiding the payment of the NFA tax (which could constitute tax evasion). This is why the intent aspect, as stated in the definition, is important. If an individual purchases one of these products intending to use it in the manner for which it was made and then misuses it, as ATF previously held in the Bradley letter, he/she has done nothing illegal. There is no law dictating the end use of a product. However, if an individual purchases one of these products to install on their pistol and intends to use it as a faux stock, he/she has very clearly created an illegal SBR.

We think the consigliere has done a good a job as anyone can hope to of reading the ATF tea leaves, so we’ll leave it at that (do go Read The Whole Thing™).

Now, we’d like to make some comments about the ATF technology evaluation process in general. Kraut notices that they did something they usually don’t do, explicitly warn that this paper really isn’t worth more than the paper it’s printed on. He quotes commentary on the latest “brace” letter, this one to Thorsden Customs. What the letter itself (hosted at Prince Law) says, is:

In closing, we should remind you that the information found in correspondence from FTISB is intended only for use by the addressed individual or company with regard to a specific scenario described within that correspondence.

This is apparently new boilerplate. But the fact is, that is the nature of all ATF determinations. They are ephemeral, have no precedential value, and are only binding on citizens, not on the ATF. The ATF can, and does, overturn them at any time on nothing more than a whim, and the courts have rules that these will-o-the-wisp whims require near-absolute deference.

ATF-Molan Labe

Finally, a couple of exit thoughts: If the ATF didn’t take an elephant’s gestation to process SBR paperwork, maybe so many people wouldn’t be looking for an end-around. Want to increase compliance with the law? Make it easy and convenient. If somebody’s not making it easy and convenient, maybe they’re not really interested in increasing compliance with the law.

Ray’s Recruiting Rangerettes; Lower Standards, Commissars, to Guarantee Graduation

This rope traverse in Ranger School is a one-time deal, not part of the PT test. One example of the physical demands on the Ranger candidate. The ladies won't be doing this.

This rope traverse in Ranger School is a one-time deal, not part of the PT test. One example of the physical demands on the Ranger candidate. The ladies won’t be doing this.

Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno has been having his minions actively recruiting Ranger rats for the first coed Ranger class. The Army has learned from the Marines’ experience with their officer and enlisted infantry schools, and he’s not even going to attempt to have the Rangerettes meet the existing standards.

He’s also emplaced a Corps of Commissars — female officer and NCO “observers and advisers” whose mission will be to ensure that the sisters make it through. Some 31 women were selected out of “more than three dozen” who applied. The Corps of Commissars selectees were given a one-week micro-Ranger-school, according to (hat tip, The Captain’s Journal):

…so they can work alongside male instructors and help observe the female students selected for the first-ever co-ed class, known as the Ranger Course Assessment, tentatively scheduled for this spring.

The article has a few more prize quotes. We couldn’t make this crap up:

“Their performance and professionalism over the course of the week was extraordinary,” Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said of the women, according to a release posted on Fort Benning’s Facebook page. “This group did very well for what was a very physically challenging week for any soldier.”

Hey, that’s the toughest week in the Army, troop. A MG (who, dear God, should not ever be approved by the Senate for three or four stars) says so, and when was a general ever wrong?

Service officials hinted that the number of women actually interested in applying for combat assignments will be relatively small.

The reason they’re “hinting” is because, in the Army now, you can’t say anything about bull dykes, even if they’re hitting on subordinates in their own unit, and you’re the commander. Strike that: were the commander, until you asked them to stop swapping spit in uniform at a unit function.

NATO countries that have opened infantry jobs and similar positions to women report that only about 1 percent of potential female recruits apply for the jobs…

Er, what’s the percentage of….? NTTAWWT. Unless they’re in your unit, disrupting unit discipline (and creeping out otherwise-oriented subordinates), and you know now that you can’t say anything lest you and a platter be making like John the Baptist most ricky-tick.

What’s more, if the U.S. military fully integrates women into all jobs, the services’ various recruiting offices will vie to recruit that small subset of the population, she said.

“Unfortunately, all of us will be competing for those same women,” Sheimo said.

Well, m’dear, you’ll just have to get creative.

Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, among others, are expected to make a decision sometime after Jan. 1 on whether to approve the plan to allow female soldiers to enroll in Ranger School.

Well, the decision those two payroll patriots are going to make is a real stone cold mystery. Really.

“Holmes, what do you make of this?”

“I don’t know, my dear Watson; for the first time in my career of detection it beats me with a stick.”

This is the picture used to illustrate their story. Presumably it shows the Corps of Commissars learning how to carry female Ranger candidates through the course.

This is the picture used to illustrate their story. Presumably it shows the Corps of Commissars learning how to carry female Ranger candidates through the course.

On second thought, we have less doubt than that, after all. Indeed, we’ll give you 10-1 that those two crapweasels make a go decision, except that none of you will take us up on it because we all already know they’ve already made the go decision.

Or to be more precise, they’ve already received the go decision and are letting a suitably decent interval elapse, as if they were thinking, before passing it on.

On Wednesday, Odierno said the service plans to finish by spring or summer assessments to determine the feasibility of opening engineering, artillery, armor and infantry jobs to women.

“It’s going very well,” he said. “We still have some final assessments to do.”

See what he did there? He very nearly spilled that the fix was in (“It’s going very well!”), and then he reeled himself in. It takes talent, and the kind of lips-on experience in sucking up that you can only learn in the best schools, to catch a bobble like that. See, that’s why this weasel is Chief of Staff, and you’re not, you slacker.

“For me, it’s about talent management. We need to take the best, no matter who you are, if you’re qualified. We’re not going to lower the standards. If you can meet the standard, we should give them the capability to service.”

Is it just us, or does that last sentence offend against the good order and discipline of the English language? And does anybody think that what has been described here is a process for finding “the best”? No, it’s a process created because certain women officers are whining about unfairness in their careers. 

Focus on your career long enough, and you turn into Ray Odierno. He was probably a great guy as a company grade officer.

[U]nits have until Dec. 1 to provide names of the volunteers to the Army’s Infantry School. Women selected for the highly competitive slots will be identified in January, Sheimo said.

The Ranger Course Assessment was open to all women in the grades E-4 through O-4 who had the support of their chain of command and whose end term of service, or ETS, was no earlier than Oct. 1, 2016, according to All-Army Activities, or Alaract, notices about the proposal.

Odierno is hardly alone in this, but he is a Chief of Staff who inherited an outstanding Army and will leave behind a weaker, less capable one.

Let’s Go to the Primary Documents!

Here’s the cable to All Army Activities (ALARACT) seeking females for the Corps of Commissars.


It’s a lot of Army bureaucratese, in hard-to-read all caps, but here are some of the most interesting details:

  • it’s optional for the female volunteers to pass the Ranger PT test.
  • Optional to pass the Combat Water Survival Test (which tests your ability to swim about ten feet in uniform without dropping your rubber-duck imitation rifle).
  • Optional to pass land nav (a skill anyone can learn to the relatively low Ranger standard).
  • Optional to complete the 12-mile foot march (again, something anyone can learn to do, men, women and children. The women will be required to carry a 35-pound pack).
  • They can’t fail. Literally can’t fail, although they can quit: “Candidates will not be dropped from the assessment except for injury or by self removal.”
  • It’s not even a week long. It’s 8 days, but Day 1 and Day 8 are travel days with no requirements.

Yeah, Ray Odierno is trying real hard to, what was it he said? “Take the best.” Nothing says you’re taking the best like a standard that tells everybody that nobody can fail.

Here’s the cable to All Army Activities (ALARACT) seeking females for the first Rangerette course.


Same complaints about cable formatting apply, but by now you can deal with it, right, Ranger? Hooah. So onward we go to the shorter list of squawks with this document.

  • All the active-duty volunteers will initially be sent to a prep school that the National Guard maintains for pre-Ranger training. (The Guard has, in the past, been embarrassed by some first-day failures and quitters, hence the US Army National Guard, Ranger Training And Assessment Course, which is not available to male active-duty Ranger candidates.
  • Commanders will have to certify that the Rangerette candidates are proficient in all those things that the Rangerette Corps of Commissars was exempted from.
  • For the first time in the sixty-plus-year history of the school, a pregnancy test will be part of inprocessing.

The bigger issue with the special class — they’re calling it an “Assessment,” but that name exists to support the fiction that the conclusions have not been already assumed a priori — is that nobody who’s seen the way the Army handles personnel has any faith that it will be conducted in anything like a fair, objective manner. We could write the Benning press release on this one already and they haven’t even picked a date for the course yet.