Category Archives: Rangers and Rangerettes

More Details on the Army’s Feeble Fitness Test, OPAT

In response to our commentary on the OPAT, Occupational Physical Assessment Test, we’ve received a lot of interesting comments, including some that wanted more technical details than what we provided.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with primary documents that help you understand this test. Now, these documents exist on two planes; one is the bare words on the document, which are written to give an impression of scientific objectivity and leadership impartiality; the other is the subtext, for these documents all are written with a view to support the political Party Line with respect to combat fitness, a Party Line that we think everyone understands.

The new OPAT... only has one ball.

The new OPAT… only has one ball.

Instruction on how to administer the OPAT is here [.pdf]. It does not answer the question some had on what intervals are used on the beep test, as the beep test audio is a computer file provided separately. Here is another set of instructions[.pdf] with illustrations and some differences — for example, the first forbids use of d-handles on a trap bar, the second shows a soldier using the d-handles.

This next document suffers from the antimnemonic and counterinformational name, USARIEM Technical Report T16-2. [.pdf] The subtitle, however, does express its intent: Development of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) for Combat Arms Soldiers. This document purports to explain how the OPAT was developed, although at the time of this document (Oct 2015) it was just intended to classify soldiers for Combat Arms specialties (specifically Combat Engineers (12B), Field Artillery (13B, 13F), Infantry (11B, 11C) and Armor (19D, 19K)). If you are Army, you will note that these are all enlisted MOSes, and have no bearing on the You Go Girl! careerist officer contingent behind all this social engineering, but that’s neither here nor there. In most of those fields and in most activity domains (although not, perhaps, endurance, which this test can’t measure) the physical demands on the enlisted soldier are greater than on his officers.

Setting up a bifurcation in the physical duties of the infantry leader and his subordinates leads one to the South American army, where privates dig the officer’s foxhole and carry the officer’s rucksack. This division of power is why the world quakes before the military prowess of Bolivia, for instance. So the Army is likely to pay at least lip service to the idea of making officers and enlisted soldiers meet similar standards.

That the Social Justice Warriors are behind this document is very clear:

A number of studies have shown, however, that [the Army Physical Fitness Test] score is not highly correlated with the performance of the physically demanding tasks performed by Soldiers. Furthermore, the APFT score includes adjustments for age and sex, not only biasing for/against certain groups, but making it potentially legally indefensible if used as a screening tool for entrance into certain MOSs. Since it is not practical to test Soldiers performance of physically demanding tasks prior to entering an MOS, criterion-based physical performance tests (i.e., tests that are predictive of soldiering task performance) are essential if the Army wishes to establish valid standards to select Soldiers for an MOS.

Translated to plain English, that means: the APFT doesn’t measure anything except ability to do push-ups, sit-ups, and 2-mile run; a test score can’t be used as an MOS cutoff anyway, if it’s age-normed and sex-normed; and that the Army can’t measure, say, the ability of a would-be cannon cocker to pick up cannon shells, so they need some test that will predict whether Soldier X has this capability before they let him strike for a cannon-cocker job. (They just assume they can’t measure something like shell-handling capability… and then, later in the paper they use tests like that to “validate” their proposed OPAT!) So they conclude that, rather than test soldiers on a realistic test, some stylized, abstract and formalized test will test Soldier X’s readiness for picking up artillery shells better than pointing him at an artillery shell and saying, “Mongo, lift!” will.

In depth job analysis revealed that five of the seven MOSs (11B, 11C, 12B, 13F, 19D) had similar critical physically demanding tasks, while two MOSs (13B and 19K) had additional or different tasks with heavy physical demands. In order to reduce costs, simplify and streamline testing, additional analyses were run to determine if a common battery of physical performance tests could be used for all seven MOSs without a large loss in the predictive capability.

That’s the source of the next assumption. They selected 23 difficult physical things, in all, and if someone could do those, then they could probably do everything the MOS required.

Remember why they’re doing this (emphasis ours)

[T]hree courses of action for gender neutral Occupational Physical Assessment Tests (OPATs) were developed for seven combat MOSs.

They did not follow through and see whether their selectees then actually could perform the combat arms job, and this was done entirely by lab boffins without any visible input from people who actually have done combat arms jobs, let alone have done them in combat, which hasn’t exactly been in short supply for the last decade and a half. But they did compare how performance on three preselected batteries of tests related to performance of the 23 tests that they decided, based on zero experience, were the edge conditions of combat arms service.

When the tests were chosen, the standards were initially set by the proponencies (i.e. the schools that train soldiers in those specialties). However, the standards were reset, lower, by the Natick boffins, based on the performance of actual soldiers. If 90% of the soldiers they tested, say, in MOS 11B, could not complete some 11B task, the standard was reset at whatever level it took to get a 90% pass rate. Thus, the claim that this test is based on the needs of the MOS is only true if you accept that the boffins are the best judge of what the MOS needs, and the performance of a set of soldiers should take primacy over the tasks they need to do). This is one of many examples where the development of the test was biased towards the command’s desired lower standards.

(It’s not unusual for a soldier who’s no good at one physical activity to be accepted by his peers based on other performance strengths, a classic example being the strongman who’s a poor runner. But by lowering the standards in this manner, the boffins assured that the test is a performance test of everybody’s weakest event, and ensures that, for instance, a weak man who’s also a poor runner will be accepted, because the criterion is set by the weak in every event).

While the boffins lowered standards, they did not raise any if the soldiers of the MOS outperformed the school standard. This is another example of the bias towards lower standards. There are many more such examples.

The three test batteries were:

  1. medicine ball put, squat lift, beep test, standing long jump, arm ergometer
  2. medicine ball put, squat lift, beep test, standing long jump.
  3. standing long jump, 1-minute push-ups, 1-minute sit-ups, 300 m sprint, Illinois agility test

The most predictive of performance on the 23 tests was Test 1, which edged out test 2, on what was apparently the sole criterion of evaluation, an R2 test of predictive value (R2 tests have their own issues); Test 3 was not significantly predictive of performance on the 23 tests (r2 as low as 0.58). Tests 1 and 2 were both about 80-90% predictive, according to the paper, and Test 2 was cheaper to administer, so the Army chose Test 2.

They went to validate the test against the criteria developed, originally, by the proponencies, with the standards lowered by the boffins as described above. However, they decided that some of the tests just were too much trouble:

Some of the tasks were not collected due to either a large skill component (as the hand grenade throw) or the duplication of the physical demands with another task (multiple foot marches).

You might be excused for suspecting that this was just one more in the many examples of bias towards lower fitness standards that permeates this entire project.

They compared their approach to the pre-recruiting tests used by many foreign nations. They are dismissive about some foreign tests:

Predictor tests range from those highly faithful to the original task, such as the weight load march and jerry can carry of the Australians….

They certainly didn’t like that antipodean idea. They never considered anything like it.

That’s how the OPAT took shape, and now we see the result.

Update 1200

Even as the Army prepares to send the physically feeble to Combat Arms, recruiters have a feebler and feebler cohort of young civilians to choose from, according to the very same “beep test” used in the OPAT:

America’s kids ranked 47 out of 50 countries measuring aerobic fitness — a key factor for overall health — in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. By comparison, Tanzania, Iceland, Estonia, Norway and Japan raced away with the top five slots. The least fit country: Mexico.

Gee, would some degree of the American decline be explained by the gradual replacement of Americans by those unfit Mexicans? (You’d suck at aerobic activity, too, if you had to breathe Mexico City air. The city’s in a bowl; it’s like LA without movie-star sightings and other vestiges of the dying SoCal culture).

Research teams from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of North Dakota analyzed data on more than 1.1 million kids aged 9 to 17. Subjects were evaluated using a multi-stage fitness test also known as the “beep” test. How it works: You run back and forth between two points 66 feet apart to synchronized beeps. The point where you can’t reach the line before the beep, that’s your level.

…and that luckless recruiter just knows that the few superior examples are probably going to choose the less-Social Justice Warrior infected Marine Corps, or the “if you’re not going to be in a fighting service, you might as well take it easy” Air Force.

Army Fitness Standards Plunge for “Social Justice”

social-justice-warriorsArmy managers (not leaders, they’re fresh out of leaders) were in a tough position. They had sworn to uphold combat arms fitness standards and prevent ineffective soldiers from joining, but they were ordered to make Social Justice, as defined by a system of race and sex quotas, paramount in personnel management. All while maintaining a fiction that these were anything but race and sex quotas!

What’s a self-before-service careerist to do? Why, “suck up and squirt down,” as always. If the personnel don’t meet the standards, a careerist lowers the standards, and conceals the standards plunge by any obfuscatory technique that seems to be handy. The ends justify the means — and the ends never have anything to do with combat readiness.

One way this is being done is with a new fitness assessment called the OPAT, or Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which is just for soldiers trying to change jobs to a more physical specialty. It involves four exercises:

  1. A standing long jump;
  2. Seated power throw of a 2 kg (4.4lb) ball;

    A soldier demonstrates the seated power throw.

    A soldier demonstrates the seated power throw.

  3. Deadlift from the ground to standing erect with arms at full hang, using a trap bar;deadlift
  4. A new kind of shuttle run on an electric timer, which is scored by repetitions.

The political officers developing the test considered using combat-oriented tests of ability like the Ranger Physical Assessment Test, but those tests didn’t meet the prime objective of removing physical fitness as a limitation on the assignment of careerist women officers. The OPAT uses the tools of modern fitness assessment and management, but limits them to an extremely low standard, to get around the biological complication of sexual dimorphism in Homo sapiens. 

For combat arms, you need to jump 160 centimeters (about 5’3″), throw the ball 450 centimeters, deadlift 160 pounds, and complete 43 lengths (one way) of the 20-meter shuttle run. The reason? For the greater glory of the Rangerettes, of course.

This new requirement comes as the Army works to integrate women into its previously closed combat specialties. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Dec. 3 lifted all gender-based restrictions on military service, paving the way for women to serve in the previously all-male infantry, armor and Special Forces fields and opening nearly 220,000 jobs across the military.

A team of OPAT experts, as part of the Army’s broader effort to educate the force on opportunities now available to female soldiers in previously closed jobs , will travel to the service’s major installations beginning later in September.

The women admitted under this standard aren’t really the problem — because the standards are sex-neutral (the credentialed-but-uneducated cretins who drafted them say “gender-neutral,” because they haven’t mastered the denotational difference between sex and gender), they will admit lots of men to combat arms, men who are as strong as the average woman.

maj-nick-barringerOr, as fitness expert MAJ Nick Barringer breaks it down in another story in Army Times, for the four exercises, based on published papers: as strong as the average 12-year old Hungarian boy. As strong as average 9-to-14-year-old boys. One-sixth as strong as 13-to-15-year-old boys who had eight weeks of training with a trap bar. And as strong as a 16 to 35 year old male non-athlete in “poor” health, or a “very good” senior citizen.

Nick sums it up:

The current standard for combat arms, according to the OPAT, requires you to have the lower body power of mediocre 12-year-old, the upper body power of an elite 14-year-old, the strength of an average 13-to-15-year-old who works out, and the endurance level of a fit senior citizen.

I get that some will argue that these are the minimum physical performance requirements when correlated with basic soldier tasks in the combat MOS world. However, we are looking at the minimum standard the wrong way.

Right now, it’s being used as an access point, measuring when a soldier is at his or her best. Instead, it should be the minimum level of performance a soldier can maintain indefinitely when at his or her worst.

When these soldier tasks happen in the real world, is the individual well-rested, perfectly fueled and adequately hydrated? Probably not, so we need to start at a point where even on the worst day their power, strength, and endurance is at a level that leaves no question they can perform above and beyond the minimum requirement as long as needed.

MAJ Barringer, hope it was worth it, because you just threw your career away by failing to see the glories of the emperor’s raiment. But he’s not done:

Otherwise, the only test standard that should be raised is the number of shuttles: If an individual who barely meets the current strength and power standards happens to meet a fit prepubescent teen, they at least better be able to run.

In a way, albeit a perverse way, the OPAT approach is pure genius. The weak, unfit men who will need to be carried by their fit peers or stuffed into rear-area supernumerary positions will far outnumber the women who will need similar treatment. The women won’t look nearly as bad as they have so far, not surrounded by acres of Millennial (or is it Millenial — not based on mille annum, but mille anum?) cheetos-chewing couch commandoes.

Now, this couch potato test will not be applied to currently serving soldiers in the combat arms. The Acela aristocracy has got a bunch of wars they’ve started, and it’s not like they’re going to send their own kids (male, female, or confused) to fight them. The test will only be used to sweep volunteers from non-combat specialties through to combat arms unimpeded. The real purpose is to open the door to careerist female officers, especially Academy graduates.

USMC: The Few, the Proud, the Fat Chicks

FemaleMarineFeminists wanted women in combat — they got it. They wanted more promotion quotas for women qua women — they got it. They wanted to maintain the fiction that standards are being held, while standards instead get “adjusted” and “improved” — and they’re getting it.

First up, they’ll accept pudgier recruits:

Female Marines will now be allowed to weigh five to seven pounds more than previously accepted for each inch of their height, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. A 5-foot-9 woman, for example, who was previously allowed to weigh up to 169 pounds, can now weigh up to 176 pounds.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, detailed the changes Friday as the military continues to fully integrate women into combat positions. He also outlined an overhaul to the Marines Corps’ annual combat fitness and physical fitness tests.

via The Marine Corps Is Letting Heavier Women Join the Service.

Next, they’re jiggering the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) to make pull-ups, at which women tend to underperform men, optional. 

The service will also give Marines the option to replace pull-ups with pushups to test upper-body strength. The flexed-arm hang, which women could previously do instead of pull-ups, will be entirely phased out.

Then, they’re just going to drop body fat testing, as long as PFC or Lt. Butterball can squeak through the PFT.

The Marines will also drop body fat limits for service members who receive high scores on their fitness tests….

You could say the Marines have the unisex blues, alright....

You could say the Marines have the unisex blues, alright….

(Actually, to be fully exempt, you have to score a 285, which is fairly fit. Scoring a 250 gets you a 1% body-fat allowance).

These changes, the Commandant noted, were “the biggest changes to the PFT since 1972 and CFT since 2009.” And when did they announce this policy? How proud of it is the USMC?

The Marine Corps issued new guidelines over the Fourth of July holiday weekend that will relax weight limits for servicewomen.

Gee, it’s nice to know our Marines are working hard on a holiday /sarc. Unbelievably, a couple of  the service’s political generals were able to step forward with Orwellian quotes about how lowering standards is raising standards. Example:

Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, the commanding general of Training and Education Command, said the new standards “raise the bar” for physical fitness in the service.

In other news, the chocolate ration has been increased from 6 to 5 grams, and we have always been at war with Eastasia.

In an ALMAR GENADMIN message, Commandant Robert B. Neller wrote that the objective of the new standards was:

…a physical fitness program that incentivizes behavior toward an end state of a healthy and fit force able to better answer the call in any clime and place.

He did, at least, clarify that the substitution of push-ups for pull-ups was, at least until the next change, not a complete abandonment of a Marine standard that has worked for the Corps without change for 44 years.

Push-ups become an option on the PFT, but Marines are incentivized toward pull-ups, as these are a better test of functional, dynamic upper body strength and correlate stronger to physically demanding tasks.  Push-ups are also a valid exercise and good test; however maximum points can only be earned by executing pull-ups.

One thing that is certainly over is 44 years of steady standards. Neller has already promised more MARADMINs with more changes, as the standards adapt to meet the political requirements. That’s not going back in Pandora’s Box.

The real losers, of course, include the Marine women who met the old standards without a thumb on the scale.

But it should all work out. While Marines have had an institutional aversion to fat chicks for a while, anyone who’s been in a bar in Jacksonville, NC around closing time knows that the fighting Marines can handle fat chicks as well as anything else you throw at ’em.

For more information, Washington Post blogger Dan Lamothe has a typical Righteous SJWs view of the policy on the Post website, with plenty of the spin you’d expect.

Some Small Arms Ranger History from American Rifleman

ranger lozengeThis past Monday, there was a great American Rifleman article by Martin Morgan, whom we don’t know but respect already based on this one article, on The Forgotten Guns of D-Day. We expected these guns to be obvious ones, because AR is a magazine for the widest possible range of gunny interests, and sure, some of them were, like the FG42 carried by counterattacking German Fallschirmjäger. But others were not (how did a John Browning design with a jawbreaker Polish name…? You’re going to have to Read The Whole Thing™).

Morgan even taught us Ragnar history that we didn’t even know that we didn’t know, including a truly bizarre use of an oddball gun that we tend to associate only with the LRDG and SAS in the Western Desert, and a critical use of the butt end of an M1 Thompson. A taste:

On D-Day, a force of 225 men from the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion was given the special D-Day mission of landing four miles west of Omaha Beach at a place called Pointe Du Hoc. After coming ashore, the Rangers would have to scale 100-ft. tall cliffs to conduct an assault against one of the most threatening German gun batteries in lower Normandy. Established in May 1942, Heeres-Küsten-Batterie Pointe Du Hoc was a position armed with six French-made 155 mm breechloading rifles. The guns had been captured in 1940 and subsequently placed in German service with the designation 15.5 cm K 418(f). At Pointe Du Hoc, they were mounted on concrete traversing tables that extended their maximum effective range, improved their already impressive accuracy, and transformed them into formidable anti-ship weapons. The Ranger mission on D-Day, which was commanded by Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder, had the objective of preventing the guns from firing on the fleet.

At 7:10 a.m., Rudder’s force landed, scaled the cliffs, and swiftly pushed the enemy back from the battery area. That is when the Rangers discovered that no guns were mounted at the point. Instead, timbers had been placed on each of the six concrete traversing tables to present the false appearance that the battery remained armed. The Rangers also found two casemates for heavy artillery at Pointe Du Hoc, but they were still under construction and their guns had not yet been mounted. In late April, the Germans removed the guns from the point to a position almost a mile to the south, but the Rangers did not know that at the time. After they secured the battery position at the point, the Rangers moved on to the next phase of their mission, which was to set up a roadblock on the Vierville/Grandcamp road. While doing this, they put out flank security for the roadblock and quickly stumbled across the guns concealed along a hedgerow-enclosed lane. First Sergeant Leonard “Bud” Lomell and S/Sgt. Jack Kuhn then used thermite grenades to destroy each gun’s traversing and elevation mechanisms. After that, Lomell used the buttstock of his M1A1 Thompson to smash the sights for each gun. Although not designed for such a purpose, the Thompson nevertheless proved effective. Those 155 mm guns-among the deadliest guns of D-Day-never fired a shot in opposition to the Normandy invasion.

M1A1 Thompson from RIA

Overnight on June 6 and 7, the Germans launched a series of powerful counterattacks that pushed the Rangers back to the point. By the time vehicles from Omaha Beach linked up with Rudder’s force at Pointe Du Hoc on June 7, the Rangers had suffered 135 casualties, mostly during the German counterattacks on the night of June 6. In the aftermath of the intense battle, one particular memorial to a fallen Ranger was raised amid the craters and debris at Pointe Du Hoc. A U.S. M1 helmet was placed on top of the handgrip of a Vickers K Gun, the muzzle of which was stuck into the soil. Although a British design chambered for the .303 British cartridge, K Gunswere mounted on the ends of extending ladders that were, in turn, mounted on DUKW amphibious trucks. The plan was that the DUKWs would swim up to the beach, then roll up to the base of the cliff at Pointe Du Hoc and extend the ladders so that the K Gunscould provide suppressing fire while the Rangers conducted their assault on the battery. Because of its blended hand grip/trigger and 60-round pan magazine, the K Gunwas anatomically well-suited for the mission in ways that the M1918A2 BAR and the M1919A4 .30-cal. machine gun were not. Of course, the Rangers could not expect to be resupplied with .303 cartridges, but they were not planning to use their K Gunsbeyond the morning of June 6, anyway. When the ammunition ran out, it would be all over and the K Gunswere to be discarded as the battle pushed inland. That is why a British automatic weapon can be found among the spent shell casings and exhausted smoke grenades at Pointe Du Hoc in the American sector of the invasion area.

We already told  you, but we’ll tell you again, go Read The Whole Thing™. In fact, read anything by Martin K.A. Morgan there. We don’t know his background, or anything about the guy, but he’s great at presenting historical guns in human context and that’s rare and worthwhile.

We enjoy writing about guns (and in previous lives, computers, cars, and aircraft), but in the end every story is a people story. Morgan gets that and his story isn’t the usual dry Guns of This Event one that’s all about the engineering with scant attention to their human masters.


Everyone Was Equal for Two Days

rangerette-benjaminBLUF: A new commander decided he was going to really get his MI company out of the rut they were in, and he was going to start with PT’ing them into the dust.

After two runs, female sniveling was approaching breakdown level. He got accused of humiliating his women officers, and fell all over himself in a Cultural Revolution style self-criticism session.

He considers this to have been a valuable leadership lesson, in communications specifically, and  if he can sustain this level of groveling to his subordinates — particularly the distaff ones — he’ll go far in the game of “Army 2.0: My Career is Everything.” Fortunately, he’s branched MI already, so it’s not like he can do much damage to a performing branch of the Army. Let’s pick up Captain Clueless’s story:

As the new commander of a Military Intelligence Company, I determined to change the culture within my organization. In my estimation, the unit needed to shift more to mental and physical toughness, and move on from a year of reset. To do this, I placed a heavy emphasis on soldiering first, and being an Intelligence professional second.

One of the first actions I took to shake things up was a plan to “smoke” the unit during a Company run. I told the Platoon Leaders and Platoon Sergeants that I would be implementing a Physical Training policy for individuals who fell out of any unit run. Those individuals would be put into the remedial PT program until they completed the same echelon run. I instructed the leaders to pass the word and emphasize the impact of falling out of a Battalion or Brigade run.

When the big day finally came, I took the Company down Battalion Avenue for our first run together. We ran the first mile in seven minutes, and then slowed the run down to allow everyone to catch up. As I looked back on the formation I saw the majority of the formation struggling to keep up, but was pleased that everyone was still pushing.

At the conclusion of the run I addressed the Company. I told them how proud I was that no one quit, and re-emphasized my policy on falling out of runs. I spoke of the importance of physical and mental toughness, and challenged the view that MI professionals needed to be technically proficient more than they needed to be physically tough.

At this point I incorrectly assumed that I had successfully set a new standard for the unit, and that I had adequately articulated my intent.

So he did it again. And what happened?

I ended the PT session with the game of ultimate frisbee, with me on the losing team and my Soldiers seemingly in high spirits after the short run and impromptu sports PT session.

snowflake 2I believed all was right with the world, and it was not until I released the Company that I noticed a talented Platoon Leader visibly upset. I asked her if everything was okay, and thankfully she had the courage to answer.

The Platoon Leader asked me if my intent that morning was “to humiliate every female leader in the Company?” I was floored. She then pointed out that every female Officer and NCO in the Company fell back during the run, and according to my stated policy, would now be part of the remedial PT program.

After an explanation and what certainly sounds like some groveling in response to that ancient all-purpose Leatherman of the manipulative woman’s toolkit, to wit, tears, he realized that he couldn’t just do a Personal Presidential Apology Tour for Little Lieutenant You Go Grrl; instead he had to publicly abase himself before all the unit women, validating their belief that they are all Unique and Special Snowflakes®.

So he did.

I explained this to the Platoon Leader, but immediately realized it was not enough. I gathered all the female leaders later that morning and apologized to them for my carelessness and shortsightedness. I followed this up during the closeout formation by clearly explaining my intent and end state to the Company, and formally apologized to those who I had set up for failure by running at that pace.

And, of course, he never did that again. Because more important than challenging the unit to elevate its game and raise its standards, is the Unwritten Army Law that one must never, ever, inconvenience or bother the sacred Feels of Lieutenant You Go Grrl and her entire playset. When it comes down to unit readiness or Unique and Special Snowflake® Self-Esteems™, you know what’s going to win. Every time.

Update: Four Thoughts

First, leadership of MI troops is a particular challenge because they tend to be intelligent, sarcastic, and profoundly narcissistic. Bradley Manning is not as much of an outlier as you might think. Their training, which often reinforces their belief that they are Incredibly Special, only amplifies the narcissism.

But there is a problem of soldier skills and soldier ethos in these isupport units and the underlying problem is unlikely to be solved by the well-meaning but weak officer’s decision to use PT as a threat and a punishment (which is exactly how the prospect of extra PT was perceived by Lieutenant You Go Grrl). No matter where you serve, some of your troops will love PT and do it extensively on their own, and some will hate it and do as little as possible. Even the fitness fanatics may not enjoy running in formation. Generally, that’s only fun for the ego leading the pack, not for the rest of the sled dogs. Threatening your Joes and Janes with more PT if you don’t like their PT performance just moves soldiers from the “enjoys PT” to the “avoids PT” bin.

Third, one is amazed that Captain Clueless here and Lieutenant You Go Grrl and her peers thought that everyone in the unit didn’t know the women couldn’t run a seven minute pace. An eight-minute pace on an it-counts two-minute run gets women within a few points of a max 100 PT score. But it is possible they didn’t know because the pop culture, the academic feminist movement, and careerist Army women officers are all in deep denial about sexual dimorphism in homo sapiens. 

Finally, there are some that insist that standards are not lowered for women. Read this article and the source with a critical eye.

Breaking: Diversity is Our Vibrancy

Army LogoAs the slogan etched on the blade of every Obama Youth dagger says, Diversity is Our Vibrancy, and Friday was a red-letter day for both of the motivating principles of the modern United States as the Army announced, in a Friday data dump, that they were commissioning 22 women as Infantry and Armor officers. A large percentage of them are West Pointers; a few are ROTC scholarship foundlings.

They have not yet passed any of the requirements, but what’s most important is how everybody feels about it, unless they don’t feel totally awesome about it, in which case they will be punished suitably. Of the 22 greatest 2nd lieutenants ever, 13 will bring their light to the dank of the tank, as operated by the Armor Branch; and nine will be the only officers that ever mattered in the previously unfashionable Infantry Branch.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has now checked one of his highest priority boxes.

Absolute Harrison Bergeron equality-of-results is not upon us yet, unfortunately. True, the women need to pass their courses, but having announced their success already makes that a mere formality. But still, some problems remain.

To start with, the women will have no subordinate women to command, at least, not yet. So far, exactly one woman has volunteered to serve as an enlisted infantry entity, and none has signed up for enlisted armor duty. Of course, neither the cat pack of officers nor the one female infantry entity has passed and been Distinguished Honor Graduates of their respective courses, yet, but today’s announcement makes it clear it’s the merest of formalities.

All right-thinking people know that the only reason women haven’t been infantrymen everywhere, taken over the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks, and broken all the mens’ Olympic records, is because of false consciousness, and because they don’t have incredibly awesome female officers yet to show them the way.

If enlisted women don’t start signing up in larger numbers, the pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Combat, that is, self-actualization of the upper class female officers, will require them to be drafted. Self-actualization of upper class female officers is, after all, the reason we have an Army in the first place. But drafting women would require that reactionary sausage-fest, Congress, to change the law.

Therefore, now that he can take pride that the Iraq War has been lost, the Afghanistan War has been lost, but the Battle of Feminist Feels has been won, Secretary of Self-Actualization and a Little Defense Ash Carter is considering the mandatory gender reassignment of gender-overstrength riflemen and tankers into understrength genders, until everything balances out even: 51-49 female.

Because they will still serve in units with men, at least until scientists with Turkey Baster Laboratories in Smith College in Northampton, MA, can parthenogenically produce the superior race of Amazons that Hollywood has made famous, or until Carter can run enough troops through the field orchiectomy clinic, the women officers will be able to concentrate on higher order activities, or browse online for shoes, while the men in their tank crews break track. As far as having an enlisted infantryman carry some privileged West Point Unique And Special Snowflake’s hundred pounds of lightweight gear, careful study (at West Point, naturally) has shown that having a junior enlisted guy carry the officer’s pack has long been the practice in armies like Bolivia’s, which has a won-lost record unmatched in world history.

That adopting aspects of such a forward-looking and dominant military culture as Bolivia’s just happens to make life easier for ringknockers does not guarantee this will happen, but one is reminded of Hognose’s Law of Rucksacks:

If a guy can’t tote a ruck, he won’t.

It’s no less true if the guys are girls.


The Services’ Women-in-Combat-Specialties Plans are Out…

rangerette-benjamin…and as you might expect, they’re hopped up on Hopium, and square the circle as everyone expected, by insisting that the standards being lowered aren’t actually being lowered.

The Army is rather up-front about its constituency for this change: careerist female officers. Initially, the only women invited to the specialties will be career officers. They’re calling this “leader first,” because women can’t be led by men or something. From the press release:

Initially, the Army will manage the assignments of women through a “leader first” approach. Beginning this year, women will be able to branch as Infantry and Armor officers, followed then by female enlisted soldiers to ensure they are assigned to operational units with integrated women leaders.

Standards will be adjusted to fit the available women.

Army flack Peter Cook has a further press release here, emphasizing that the services can open all specialties “right away.” More of the social justice bullshit barrage:

  • Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s memo (.pdf)
  • The Army plan (.pdf) (HQDA Order 097-16)
  • The Navy’s Female Integration Implementation Plan (.pdf). This turns out to be specifically for those specialties in Naval Special Warfare that were previously closed to women.
  • The Marine Corps Plan (.pdf). This demonstrates that SJW jargon can indeed be pressed into an operations-order format. Reading between the lines, it seems to have been written with the enthusiasm Bart Simpson brings to writing corrective sentences on the chalkboard.
  • The Air Force Plan (.pdf). Of the services this seems to be the one that not only drank, but is trying to breathe the Kool-Aid.
  • The USSOCOM plan(.pdf) signed by Gen. Joseph Votel

We found some interesting things in (or between the lines of) the special operations plan. First, GEN Votel notes that the command has successfully defended their existing standards as mission-related, and therefore will continue to hold the standards, women be damned. (We’ll see how that holds up when Princess calls Daddy in tears because it’s not faaaiir in SFAS, BUD/S, green platoon or what have you). Second, we notice that Votel didn’t hang onto the implementation grenade for a minute longer than he had to, but dropped it in the lap of MG Chris Haas.

We wouldn’t want to be among Haas’s direct reports right now… ’cause we think that grenade isn’t done being tossed just yet.

As to standards, here’s some of the clues in the USSOCOM memo that suggest that standards are not moving an inch for the Amazons. Emphasis ours.

USSOCOM executed a rigorous third party review process resulting in the validation of our existing assessment, training, and occupational standards as operationally relevant and gender-neutral. Established standards are key to the selection, training, operational readiness, and continued performance of Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel. Adherence to these rigorous standards is crucial to our combat effectiveness and the preservation of unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.

That’s a shot across Ash Carter’s bow, but Carter’s probably not culturally oriented enough to recognize it. When he and whichever empty suit is sitting at the Secretary of the Army desk start pushing to drop the standards, they’ll be reminded — possibly publicly — that they signed off on this document.

acu-powerpoint-ranger-tabThe Army plan, conversely, is the usual buzzword bingo card, plus, because it’s Big Green, it wouldn’t be complete if it weren’t full of gaudy graphics with badly mismatched colors, documenting some optically-challenged lieutenant colonel’s struggles with the illustration module in PowerPoint.


For crying out loud, we’ve had official gays in the Army for ages now, can’t we get one of them to color-coordinate the jeezly slides?

The Navy, for its part, notes that females have not been beating down the doors for a chance to try out for previously opened physically challenging specialties, and those that have tried have qualified at much lower rates than men.

Population Size: NSW acknowledges that equal opportunity may not produce equal results as seen in other U.S. Navy Special Operations programs. While completely open to females, the Navy Diver community is 0.6% female, Navy enlisted EOD is 0.9% female. and EOD officers are 2.5% female. Statistically, females have lower assessment, selection, and qualification program success rates within these communities. Enlisted EOD females have a 13% success rate as compared to 31% for males; Navy Diver females have an 18% success rate as compared to 47% for males.

NSW, as USSSOCOM suggests,, is going to hold the previous standards:

All standards for accession, training, qualification, advancement, retention, and assignment were reviewed and will remain the same.

We’ll see how long that bold intention lasts after a couple years of 0.9% of this and 1/3 the pass rate of that keeps crossing desks in the E Ring.

And the Navy has one particular objection that ought to be stapled to Ash Carter’s forehead (emphasis ours again):

Increasing opportunity in direct ground combat units in support of integration objectives is not anticipated to increase combat readiness or effectiveness. Physical performance is not the only measure of a sailor/soldier, but it is a key measure of a primary requirement for ground combat – fighting men at close quarters. In the near term, achieving integration, and evolving existing cultures will channel focus and energy away from core combat readiness and effectiveness efforts. This is a critical risk concern as SOF combat operations run on carefully calculated but thin margins. Additional risk factors include anticipated adjustment of standards, disruption of social cohesion, partnering compatibility, medical concerns to female, media attention, and the longevity and retention of expertise.

This puts it in black and white. “Do this if you will, Carter, but stop lying that there are no costs associated with these intangible, feel-good, virtue-signalling benefits.”


As this was prepared to go to press, on 17 March 2014, Ash Carter released his 2017 strategy document: “2017 Defense Posture Statement: Taking the Long View, Investing for the Future” (.pdf, naturally). No surprises here. He does lead with the strategy stuff — hinting that the giant sucking sound you hear is the Administration pulling its head out about ISIL, which the short-lived Russian intervention did more to harm that the years of Pentagon and White House dithering — and even says bad things about Iran at one point. But you can see he’s phoning it in. All the stuff about the war he really cares about — the Social Justice War — is tacked on towards the end, perhaps hoping people won’t read that far.

Update II

Received from a retired senior field grade Special Forces officer, this Army Times article lists the requirements for women in Special Forces. As he comments, the physical is no problem for any healthy young person… doing 150 miles in a week under a 65-100 lb. pack is an equine of another hue entirely.

Weaponsman comment: the lower you set the initial entry bar relative to the graduation requirement, the more candidates you break when their ambition commits them to a course of action their musculoskeletal system can’t support. That’s a pity, as these candidates would never have graduated anyway, and now they can’t return to their previous best-case job, either. But it’s where not telling the truth gets you, and for a couple of decades we haven’t been telling the truth (culturally) about women and combat.

Women in Combat Update

rangerette-benjaminDavid Gelernter, in an article on the degree to which popular antipathy to Beltway “political correctness” fuels the Trump candidacy, notes en passant that the whole women-in-combat thing is PC at Shock And Awe levels:

Political correctness means that when the Marines discover that combat units are less effective if they include women, a hack overrules them. What’s more important, guys, combat effectiveness or leftist dogma? No contest! Nor is it hard to notice that putting women in combat is not exactly the kind of issue that most American women are losing sleep over. It matters only to a small, powerful clique of delusional ideologues. (The insinuation that our p.c. military is upholding the rights of women everywhere, that your average American woman values feminist dogma over the strongest-possible fighting force—as if women were just too ditzy to care about boring things like winning battles—is rage-making.)

The mainstream press largely ignored the Marines story. Mainstream reporters can’t see the crucial importance of political correctness because they are wholly immersed in it, can’t conceive of questioning it; it is the very stuff of their thinking, their heart’s blood. Most have been raised in this faith and have no other. Can you blame them if they take it for granted?

via The Elephant in the Room | The Weekly Standard.

What, reporters don’t see PC slant any more than fish perceive wetness? You think? Meanwhile, here are a few other things that are going on:

  • Women are being recruited for direct combat specialties now. This is a bonanza for recruiters, as they can plug 5’0″ females into hard-to-fill MOS slots, get credit towards their quotas, and be well clear of the backblast area when Ashley and Alexandra bork out of training months later. Naturally, we’re seeing celebratory press coverage, as if volunteering == qualification. When the Unique And Special Snowflakes™ getting fawning press coverage like this start flunking schools, expect lots of downward pressure on standards from social engineers like Ash Carter, and their stooges in the press. Although maybe the press is the actual causative agent, and Carter’s the stooge? Ah, “What difference does it make?”
  • Women shouldn’t have to follow icky military regulations — not when it interferes with following their bliss, or their feels in general. And they get Congressional cover for that (emphasis ours): “Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has asked the U.S. Marine Corps top official to review rules she feels discriminates against female recruits who have tattoos.” The girl in question has a gaudy “collar” containing an insipid aphorism, and even though tattoos that show in uniform are banned, and even though the girl got the tattoo after she knew she wanted to join up, Pingree (D-ME) and this Unique and Special Snowflake™ believe that the USMC should adjust to them. (She could get the tattoo removed but that would cost her money, and anyway, the downsizing Marines should be glad to bump another kid for her, because she’s special).
  • The Israeli example is often misquoted, even by people who ought to know better. Israel, initially a nation predominantly leftist and irreligious in orientation, experimented with women in combat in 1948. While many roles are open to Israeli women, the IDF today is careful to stick to assigning women where they can do Israel, not just their own careers, some good. French (again) at National Review sets the record straight. He relies in that on this 1992-vintage theoretical/historical paper on women in combat (including with Soviet forces and the IDF).
  • Writing in a brief letter to Navy Times, Norman Polmar (who probably needs no introduction to this audience) succinctly dismisses the Israeli woman-warrior legend:

Rarely mentioned, if at all, as some U.S. military leaders, mostly civilians, advocate putting women in front-line, ground combat units, is that for the foreseeable future our ground and special forces will be fighting militant Muslims. As I learned from my work with the Israeli Navy, the Israelis are reluctant to have women engage in tactical operations because: 1) Muslim men do not surrender to women; 2) men get killed trying to save women; and 3) the “treatment” of women combatants captured by Muslims.

Unfortunately, many of our political leaders have no understanding of the “real world.”

  • Meanwhile, the draft for women continues — not in the USA, but in Bernie Sanders’s lodestar, North Korea. So many politically unconnected Nork men are so weak and stunted from endemic malnutrition, that the Socialist Workers’ Paradise has to draft girls from the better-fed nomenklatura. A young North Korean (of either sex) must be 142 cm (4’8″) to be accepted, down from 145 cm  (4′ 9″) in 2009. Nork female draftees must serve from three to six years; Nork male draftees must serve from 10 to 13 years depending on specialty. The average Nork is 9 or so cm shorter than his or her southern cousin: “bad luck” made manifest. It’s so exciting that the USA may follow such enlightened provinces as North Korea and Lopez-era Paraguay down the bright sunlit path to a female draft.
  • russian_rangerettesFor the “You Go Grrrll!” angle you can look in just about any paper, but this dog’s breakfast of an article at Mother Jones collects most of the feminist dogma into one place. That women can’t pick up wounded men the way they can each other? Doesn’t matter because “standards will not be changed.” That women will get pregnant and drop out to the mommy track at critical points in train-up? Doesn’t matter because “time lost by women to pregnancy is the same or less than time lost by men to discipline problems.” Eh, honey, combat units (especially SOF units) don’t lose significant soldier time to discipline problems; you’re comparing two dissimilar things, due to ignorance, bias, or (most likely) both. The writer also cites the opinion of CST members that the CSTs were a great success. Tip for reporters: ask the actual combatants saddled with those CSTs what they think.
  • The Washington Post’s Michelle You Go Grrrl! Lee wrote a tendentious “fact-check” claiming that the USMC study of women in combat didn’t find that their use in a long and thorough experiment “increased casualties.” True insofar that the experiment was conducted in training, not actually in combat. Hey, nobody died in the whole study, so casualties are totally over. She also quibbles that since the wounded would still be wounded whether they were evacuated by male Marines or abandoned by female Marines, there was “no change” in the number of casualties. Technically, perhaps, that’s true. What the study did find is that the typical male Marine who had to rely on the typical female Marine to evacuate his wounded body was not going anywhere. It was an inference from that that he was going to die. (You can’t expect Michelle You Go Grrl! Lee to understand logic and inferences. After all, she’s only a girl!) The study is here.
  • And it’s not related to women, per se, but it’s a close cousin, as the social engineering is strong in this one: the right of gay people to serve in the military being a done deal, an appeals court is considering granting them the right to pass on AIDS without telling their partners they’re HIV positive. After all, some fine, progressive military lawyers don’t want to harsh some gay guy’s fabulous for him. The case is less about the specific facts and about the specific accused, than it is about the social engineering: even if the guy in this instance “wins,” he’s out on his ear with a Bad Conduct Discharge for other misconduct, so it will make no material difference to the appellant. It’s just a chance for some military lawyers and judges (who are, but shouldn’t be, lawyers) to do some social justice virtue signaling in the service of their one true aspect of godhead, the Great Buggernaut.

Why, in the darkest days of the US military, say, as the British assault crested the earthwork at Bunker Hill, no doubt the defenders’ last thoughts as they were bayoneted were: if only we had some women here! As the Texans’ very bones were chilled by the deguello sounding across the San Antonio scrubland, they realized that they were doomed because they didn’t have a couple of female narcissistic careerist West Pointers (but we threepeat ourselves) to stack up against the thousands of Mexican regulars. And in the arduous retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in 1950, the lack of womens’ collaborative touch really made it hell.  (Collaborative touch? You know, the one seen in every all-female workplace, and the kind you hear about when your lady friends and relatives tell you about their women bosses).

Why, beats there a military heart in the land that has never uttered this bald plea to Fate: “Can you not deliver unto me and my small unit, greater social engineering and more intense micromanagement”? Will no one rid us of this dread and dreary deficiency of female intuition and “collaborative touch”?

Into that great, vast chasm of yearning steps Ash Carter, but we can imagine, in our mind’s eye, his followers: just what we needed. Thousands, nay millions, of suffragettes and feminists, marching in step.

In sensible shoes.

Ray Mabus: No More Riflemen in the USMC

Mabus MemoRay Mabus, a career politician whose entire life and every action signals contempt for the United States Marine Corps, is hitting the Corps where it lives: there will no longer be any Riflemen in the Corps. Oh, sure, there’ll still be 0311s and the other Infantry MOSes, but the Corps is going full-retard-gender-neutral. So they’re going to be Riflepersons, Infantrypersons, or maybe Rifle Operators. Rifle-ists? Small-Caliber Projectile Launch Technicians? You’re welcome to enter your best guess in the comments, but whatever he’s gonna be after (fittingly enough), April Fool’s Day, it isn’t going to be a Rifleman. Or Infantryman. Or Recon Man.

This is an opportunity to update the position titles and descriptions themselves to demonstrate through this language that women are included in these MOSs. Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing”man” from their titles and provide a report to me as soon as practicable and no later than April 1, 2016…

Put some windings and brushes on him, and Chesty Puller spinning in his grave would be a dependable source of non-fossil-fuel energy. (Well, Chesty’s been dead long enough maybe he is a fossil now, which would make him fossil fuel and therefore haram in what Mabus has in place of a religion).

Congrats, if you’re a Marine Recon Man. You went to the last hard Indoc. It’s official now.

In the memo, which we’ll attach here: (SecNav.pdf), Wesley Mouch Ray Mabus (pardon the error, we got our weasels crossed) makes it clear he wants name, rank and serial number of any looters and wreckers who fight the E Ring on this:

In the submitted Marine Corps Implementation Integration Plan, the Marine Corps highlights the Commander’s Critical Information Requirements: (1) indications of decreased combat readiness or effectiveness; (2) indications of an increased risk to Marines in previously closed units, to include risk of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment and hazing; (3) indications of a lack of career viability for female Marines in ground combat arms MOSs or units; (4) indications that Marine Corps command climates and/or culture is unreceptive to qualified female Marines in ground combat arms units and MLSs; (5) indications that morale and/or cohesion is degraded in integrated ground combat arms units; and provided expansion of these indications and their respective measures of effectiveness in the Assessment Plan Synchronization Matrix.

Notice what’s missing: he doesn’t want to hear about poor performance, the sort that used to get women officers flunked out of infantry officer school. He doesn’t want to hear about UCMJ problems, he doesn’t want to hear about fraternization, injuries, deployment rates… he absolutely, positively does not want to hear about how the women are doing relative to the men who were doing it before. He only wants to hear about the wreckers and looters standing athwart Progress, hindering our pilgrimage to the bright sunlit uplands where Vibrancy is Our Diversity.

Hey, the Marines have been on pilgrimages like this before, one in the Philippines for example, and that long last walk to the beach on Wake Island in ’43.

Also, what do you think Mabus will do with information like that, based on our experience with him already? Adjust his plan to fit the data,? Or conduct a few ritual executions of “defeatists” who weren’t sufficiently “with the program” to bend their data to please him?

Nothing personal, Admiral Byng, just pour encourager les autres.

And it’s his highest priority:

I commend you for prioritizing this implementation and requiring quarterly leadership updates at your monthly Executive Off-Sites. Please provide a copy of these quarterly updates to me on a regular basis.

Big Brother Sister Sibling is watching you.

Because, Valor Medals Deserve Quotas Too…

in a related venture, the services are reviewing well over 1,000 awards for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor, including all Army DSCs and Silver Stars. (So far what’s left of a Marine Corps has opted out). The cover story is that this is an initiative of Ash Carter’s to recognize overlooked valor; in fact, it stems from the President’s desire to see more MoH awards to minority service members, and particularly to award a Medal of Honor to at least one woman and at least one gay soldier (and maybe a bonus gay woman!) before the President is term-limited out of office. The bar will be lowered to meet the available women and gays, and a few ordinary guys will also see upgrades — the better to camouflage the political intent of the awards review.

In the spirit of the thing, we may see the first ever upgrade of an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device to the MOH. Because valor awards, too, are something the Ray Mabuses of the world, who can’t see past skin color, think are just one more Federal benefit that ought to be “fairly” distributed on a racial quota spoils system.

When We’re Handing Out Gongs, Don’t Forget Combat Playstation

Additionally, drone operators based Stateside will finally get the combat awards they’ve long whinged about not having, but will have to wear an “R” device (for “remote,” as in, “their duty is remotely related to military service.” Serving and retired service members, particularly the ones that have earned the rewards that will now be basic issue, see this as a dilution of the value of the awards, but Carter, Mabus and the generals and admirals that serve them are Participation Trophy Tee Ball guys, and to them the only thing important is the trophy, not the game.

Being military types themselves, they don’t understand the trophies and baubles are only as coveted as they are, because of the risks that were taken and blood that was shed by those that have earned them before. An E-Ring full of people who, asked to name a “hero,” would likely come up with Bruce Jenner or some other random celebrity, is unlikely to “get” combat valor.

The Navy, and more particularly the Marine Corps, has now been given the Party Line. Deviate from it at your own peril! Do you think there’s a Sophie Scholl remaining in there somewhere? Or has any such independent thinker already been purged?

How’s that Women in the Service Thing Working?

In the Navy, not so good. Especially in submarines, last year’s (well, 2011’s) Triumph of the Sisterhood. Color us shocked: the lady officers (1) don’t stick with it; (2) often expect assignment to where Hubby is even if they have to create a make-work job for her; (3) caused disruption to the culture and undermined the command climate on at least one boat, through no fault or failing of their own, but because horny, immature sailors acted like horny, immature sailors; (4) neither join nor stay in sustainable numbers; and, (5) are the beneficiaries of an (unsought, we believe) culture of impunity which guarantees the advancement of any toxic leaders in their ranks.

USS Wyoming, SSBN-742. Aka The Perv Boat.

USS Wyoming, SSBN-742. Aka The Perv Boat.

These outcomes are not only predictable, they were predicted at the time by various sharp-eyed kids who were shouted down by Acela Corridor admirers of the Emperor’s New Clothes Girls.

Diversity is Our Vibrancy®!

Item: Train Two Dozen, Keep Three.

exit signThe women who pushed their way in to submarine officer slots are pushing their way out — of subs, and of the Navy.

Most of them are punching out because they met and married a guy, almost always another Naval officer (and usually of higher rank), and they want to be closer to him. That would really frost the balls of the lesbo-feminists, such as DACOWITS, who pushed for this — if they had any balls. Navy Times:

For the first women to earn the coveted dolphin pin, it’s decision time about whether to stay in the Navy. And so far, only three of the original 24 have signed up.

That’s twelve and a half percent. (As we’ll see, it’s eighteen percent in Navy Diversity New Math). Of supposedly career-bound Academy graduates. What will happen when they open this opportunity to the proletariat, and not the supposedly monastically dedicated order (and certainly careerist ticket-punch collectors) of national defense?

And why are they leaving?

The reasons span the work-life spectrum. The demands on a nuclear engineering trained submarine officer. The strain of balancing careers with a spouse who’s also a military officer. A lingering sense of disgust after the submarine video scandal.

We’ll get to the video scandal in a minute — the disgust there was well earned. But a Unique And Special Snowflake™ who would quit over “a lingering sense of disgust” is probably not someone you can count on for steady leadership when you’re being hunted by a couple of Kilos and an Admiral Gorshkov or two.

“I would probably expect that most of the women are going to get out,” Lt. Jennifer Carroll told Navy Times. “I don’t know exactly what everyone’s personal reasons are for it, but I think a lot of it has to do with co-location.”

Carroll, 28, was one of the first women to earn her dolphins in 2012 as a junior officer aboard the ballistic missile sub Maine, and today works with the Submarine Force’s integration office in Norfolk.

Carroll’s job progression is typical of those women who do stay in — they migrate from the point-of-the-spear jobs they demanded for a career boost, to a 9-to-5 (or less) headquarters office job with no hardships attached or heavy lifting. In other words, they go onto the mommy track. But even she isn’t sure she’s going to stay in.

If she does, it probably won’t be in subs, as her hard-won husband’s an aviator and she, reasonably for a newlywed, wants a compatible deployment schedule and location. The Navy’s air bases are near their fleet bases, but the sub bases are not.


We’re up against the married-couple problem that old Agency hands cynically call OFTPOT — One For The Price of Two. Other government and government-funded fields have long had this problem: whee do you put the spouse of the member you need, when he or she’s a member, too? The answer, whether in CIA, the military, or academia, is usually to create a do-nothing surplus position to make work for the surplus spousal unit. Harvard famously did this for the dullard husband of US Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, when all-Anglo paleface Warren was selling herself as a unicorn-rare (if fraudulent) American Indian law professor. The Agency, which has long encouraged marriages in-house for the convenience of Security, does the same thing almost daily. In the military, more of a shrinking headcount is employed at make-work spousal jobs all the time. OFTPOT, it’s a real thing. The spooks just named it first.

Item: The Sub Scandal, or, A Boat Full of Pervs

You probably didn’t hear about this, because it flies directly in the face of Diversity is Our Vibrancy®, the current US Navy motto.

The Village People made a whole career out of the idea that almost anything looks pretty cute after 150 days at sea, and everyone wondered just what would happen when something that actually does look cute got added to the mix. We knew from surface ships and ground forces’ deployments that fraternization, misconduct, pregnancies, and the heightened emotions of relationships rejected, initiated, and terminated were all going to be problems. The military with its uneven and inconsistent response to these issues (for instance, punishing only the male in pregnancy and fraternization cases, which is the de facto norm) doesn’t have moral high ground to stand on, but what happened in subs was worse, to the point of being creepy.

navy_video_pervs_chartAnd the Navy, which could have made a big deal out of standards here, botched it. Navy Times again (a different article):

The filming wasn’t a one-off or a prank. It was a sophisticated and repeated invasion of privacy, where male Wyoming sailors acted as lookouts while a friend filmed female shipmates undressing with cell phones or an iPod Touch — both of which are banned aboard the sub.

The sub’s missile technicians discovered a hole in a bulkhead that gave them a view in to the female changing and shower area. Which they then exploited. MT’s that weren’t comfortable with the idea of filming their shipmates weren’t comfortable with turning in the other shipmates who were doing it, either. In the end all were swept up in a muti-million-dollar investigation, which produced the lovely chart you see here (via Navy Times, reconstructed into a single document by At least, all the junior ones. One of the guilty sailors’ lawyers charges that the Navy did not investigate senior personnel (yet another Navy Times article):

[O]ne sailor’s attorney contends that the Navy has so far failed to punish others in the alleged ring, based on information provided by his client. This includes allegations that two chiefs watched the videos but have not been charged.

“We gave them a barrel full of information,” Jim Stein, a Georgia-based civilian attorney, told Navy Times on Wednesday. “There was no way in this world that they followed up on it.” ….

All four female officers who were assigned to Wyoming testified at the court-martial. Stein said he thinks the Navy is dropping the ball in holding every party responsible.

“On cross-examination, I said, ‘Do you want each and every person held responsible?’ ” he said, talking about the female officers. “They all said yes.” ….

Greaves contends that two of his chiefs asked to see the videos and did not report them, his lawyer said.

“I feel sorry for those ladies. What happened to them was unbelievable,” Stein said. “But to not follow up on it is letting down these ladies and the ones to follow.”

Ah, but were the immunized Chiefs and their officers valuable diversity beans themselves? There’s nothing simple about the bean-counting tournament, not at this level of competition.

Original Wyoming Perv article again:

One sailor admitted that he and a male peer rushed to secretly record each female midshipman while she was in the shower changing room. They filmed every woman each time she took a shower during the three-month patrol, he said — several times a day, according to a new report.

Peer pressure allowed this ring to persist for 10 months on the Wyoming, recording and sharing videos of dozens of women they served alongside every day.

The scandal has dismayed the sub force and some of the trailblazing officers who made history as the first women submariners.

The Navy, which is usually quick to fire commanding officers, was in a quandary. The CO had no knowledge of the misconduct of lower-ranking personnel, and he was a certified Social Justice Warrior himself. In the end, the investigation was curtailed at the PO2 level and senior personnel got a bye from the investigators.

By the way, those warrior women who were so ill done by, by these creepy shipmates? One of them, asked how she reacted, said, quote, “I broke down.” Fortunately, nothing in combat is as stressful as some perv taking nekkid pictures of you.

Oh yeah, Diversity is Our Vibrancy®!

Item: The Numbers Aren’t There

Back to the first Navy Times article again, we l earn some interesting facts about women officers in the Navy. In the first case, their uptake rate to stay in beyond initial obligated service is very low: 18%. (This is far lower than their male peers, and we’re told the delta is even bigger among Academy grads, even though male and female Canoe U grads are more likely to make a career of it).

Five officers have washed out of the program for medical issues, academic failures and other reasons. Something as simple as a shellfish allergy could disqualify a person from submarine service. The service also only counts those who have reached three years of commissioned service.

Factoring in those unplanned losses leaves the retention rate at 16 percent for the first submarine officers, Crosby [a PR droid] said.

By which he’s saying, if they are out for some reason other than saying they quit, we can’t count them in the denominator of the equation. It’s a thumb on the scale. The zero-intgrity spokesman follows up with a tu quoque logical fallacy:

Crosby noted that retention for nuclear-trained women in surface warfare stands at 14 percent, and pointed out that one women from the 2011 year group has already committed to being a submarine department head.

One! One! She’s Our Diverse Vibrancy in action, personified. No pressure.

And hey, it’s okay for retention in the sub service to suck, because female officer retention in this other career sucks too.

Keeping women officers serving is a challenge across the force. In the surface and aviation communities, 36 and 39 percent of officers take the department head bonus, according to statistics.

But within those communities is a great disparity. While 41 percent of male SWOs stick around, about 22 percent of their female colleagues do.

And for aviators, the numbers show a 48 percent take rate for men and just 18 percent for women. Women make up less than 20 percent of the Navy and are much less likely to stay past an initial contract regardless of their specialty.

The priests of the Cult of Diverse Vibrancy® explain this as not enough women to serve as examples. See if you required half the Navy to be women, you might get half of every single specialty to be women.

And if through some miracle you did not, you would enjoy guaranteed job security for the acolytes of the Cult of Diverse Vibrancy® for all time, or at least, until the Republic fell.

Item: A Culture of Impunity

Another problem that sits, unaddressed, is that lady officers are such Unique and Special Snowflakes™ that they are not subject to the sanctions and correctives males would be, and therefore a disproportionate number of them evolve into toxic leaders, continually screwing up and moving up until some cataclysmic failure of leadership is so large that even the Navy has to react (c.f.  Holly Graf).

You can go too far with that — for instance, some have suggested the innocent officers and midshipmen filmed by the gang of creeps on Wyoming were somehow to blame, and we reject that idea utterly — but if the Navy, and the other services, want their female leaders to be respected, they need to hold them throughout to the same standard as the men, and the effect on numbers, which currently hovers in the background of every discussion of a standards breach, needs to be absolutely disregarded.

And they’ll never, ever do that. They’re too committed to an a priori position that Diversity is Our Vibrancy®! Which is why you have a culture of impunity. Which is why you have a female Marine officer crucified for trying to lead lady Marines to meet the same Marine standards the gentlemen do. Which is why you end up with Holly Graf, instead of the lady Marine who set a positive example for her Marines male and female alike.

And That’s How We Wind Up Here

So, bottom line, the Navy is struggling with the only metric that’s of concern to the current SecNav and CNO, Holy Diversity. You had One Job, Mabus….

Keeping subs pierside while NCIS flatfeet systematically grill everybody may be having an impact on stuff like readiness, but that’s not something those worthies value, which is why they’ve let the Navy decline to this point. Any day, we expect the British will  be able to impress sailors again. But they have not yet begun to fight their war, the Social Justice War, with its real casualties and ever-shifting victory conditions.

Sure, our subs have 1990s technology, crews who never know who’s a shipmate, who’s a careerist, and who’s an informer, and Russian boomers (and even Chinese diesels) can hear ’em coming miles off. But hey, the crews that will drown inside them in wartime will have perfect racial and sexual balance, and will have boosted female Academy graduates along their ladder of ambition. Isn’t that why we have a Navy?