Back this summer, when we had news about the Army’s attempt to cram women into Ranger School and IOBC (just pull up the “Rangers and Rangerettes” category for the backstory), we discovered that the reason the Army was doing it was… that the Marines, never slow at detecting any shift in political winds, were admitting women to their infantry officer course.
Women — especially the shrill voices of Organized Feminism, from the media to the bar to DACOWITS — insisted that combat commands were a shiny they needed to make general officer. The Army, which as an institution tends to see wars as regrettable interruptions in the orderly flow of officer careers, agreed. But still the Marines were first out of the gate, with two female volunteers entering Marine IOC with great fanfare. Sisters be stickin’ it to The Man!
But within two weeks the only ones stickin’ it out in IOC were men. One of the girls quit the first day, falling out of an endurance event. The second one was a drop in the second week for a medical reason. (Note: this post was drafted 3 November. A Wall Street Journal op-ed by the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon confirmed this result and provided some details — O’Hanlon observed some of the evolutions in question — on Nov. 13).
Katie Drummond, one of the media’s “you-go-girl” cheerleaders for this attempt, reported dispiritedly:
[T]he second of the female Lieutenants was pulled from the program last week because of unspecified medical problems. The other Lieutenant dropped out on September 28th, after failing to complete the first day of training. She was joined by 26 male participants, out of only 109 enrollees in the grueling course.
It’s a disappointing outcome, but by no means the end of the story for female personnel keen to partake in combat roles they’ve long been prohibited from. The infantry officer course (IOC) is notoriously challenging: Around 25 percent of participants — until this year, all of them male — drop out before completing the program. If you’re unfamiliar with the IOC, consider that participants (among other torturous proceedings) undergo a preliminary “indoctrination test” that consists of several miles of navigation in isolated terrain, often trek or run lugging heavy gear while subsisting on rations of food and water, and are required to complete written exams administered during periods of extreme fatigue.
OK, so it’s hard, and 1/4 of the attendees quit or fail. So far, 4/4 of the female attendees have done so, but we’ll grant that two green lieutenants is not a solid statistical base upon which to make policy.
It was kind of predictable, though. If IOC held to its standards, the girls weren’t going to pass, and if the girls passed, that’s a pretty good indicator that the standards had, like so many other military standards, been clandestinely sex-normed.
So how hard is this course, actually?
“You’re running on a couple hours’ sleep and you’re running on one meal per day,” Greg Jacob, a former Marine infantry officer, told The Daily. “You’re having to apply all these things…in an environment that’s really a pressure cooker.”
via Female Lieutenants Flunk Marine Corps’ Fierce Infantry Training – Forbes.
And of course, the headline says that it’s “fierce.’
The second of two female infantry aspirants dropped by the wayside over three weeks ago, but we’re just hearing about it now (note: that was written on Nov. 3rd. Most people never heard of this ’til O’Hanlon wrote it up, because Drummond’s blog hasn’t the reach of the Wall Street Journal). The press loses interest when the dog turns out to have bitten the man after all; they’s so deeply invested in the man-bites-dog novelty angle that they’re happy to leave most of America thinking that that is what actually happened, rather than admit that they were wrong.
We’re sorry for the two unfortunate young ladies. Good luck in your Marine careers… we’re sure the Corps will find some way to make best use of your talent. We could have told you Infantry was not the place, but you had to find out for yourselves. Now you may be feeling low, but new doors will open for you.
In the meantime, of course, the Army, pushed by the Administration and the Democratic Party’s national security think tank of journalists and one-tour-wonder lieutenants, the Center for a New American Security, continues to drive on on a mission to lower Ranger School and Infantry Officer Basic Course standards low enough that all the ladies will pass.
When they do, headlines will call it “fierce.”