Category Archives: Rangers and Rangerettes

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 WeaponsMan.com 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.

sigbrace1

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 Military.com (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 Military.com 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 Military.com 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 Military.com 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.

ALARACT 221_2014 – FEMALE OBSERVERS_ADVISORS FOR THE UNITED.pdf

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.

ALARACT 222_2014 – FEMALE STUDENTS FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY.pdf

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.

The 1968 LRRP Conference on Weapons: Vol. II.

Since we knew you were going to ask, here’s the weapons stuff out of Vol. II., which was the Recondo School presentation. But it’s notable that before they discussed weapons, they discussed two more crucial elements — helicopter support (both logistics, in terms of slicks, and fires, in the shape of a Light Fire Team of attack and scout helicopters). But they did get to weapons in due course.

Weapons – The type of enemy positions, type of operation planned and the AO requires a supply of varied weapons. Most of the time a major commander will make weapons available regardless of the MTOE. However. to solve the problem. a weapons pool at the company or detachment headquarters with some of each type of weapon should be created. This would include such items as the M-79 grenade launchers, M-l6 machineguns, silenced pistols and rifles and other special purpose weapons.

OSS_M3A1_grease_silenced

Straightforward enough. We have always struggled agains the Big Green bureaucracy, in our efforts to maintain a pool of foreign and obsolete weapons, as well as other low-density US weapons, for training and operational purposes. Conventional officers, especially logistical types, tend to come from way out on the left tail of the bell curve, and have a really hard time understanding this. They really hate it when sensible preparations for combat interfere with their systems of orderly and regular inventories.

Next, the report addresses the patrol member’s dream date, the CAR-15 (which is very, very rarely called “XM177E2,” its real Army name, in period reports. Of course, some were XM177s and XM177E1s, and others were combat tested with just a Colt model number, or a Colt GX — “Government Experimental” — model number).

The CAR-15 appears to be a popular and desirable weapon and should be available. However, it is questionable as whether every man should have one. Much of its popularity is due to its newness and novelty. The point man and radio operator should have them to reduce the welight they must carry and because of the convenience offered by their shorter length. Sometimes the accuracy at long ranges of the M-16 is needed and the M.16 rarely malfunctions; therefore, it must also be available.

Of course, Colt’s whole production run of CAR-15s was, according to Colt records, 10,000 weapons. Not counting odd lots and rarities like this “GX” model (“Government Experimental,” usually indicating a toolroom prototype).

Colt GX-5857

 

When the Son Tay Raid was standing up, there were none in the Army’s inventory in new condition, so Task Force Ivory Coast acquired a stock of either Air Force or Export guns. The handful of existing Son Tay photographs show that the carbines resemble Colt Model 639/XM177E2 “submachine guns,” but lack the characteristic forward assist.

 

Even though airborne insertions were never used in RVN by Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol or Long Range Patrol teams, the conference concluded it was valuable:

The group was unanimous in desiring airborne qualification. First of all they felt LRP’s had to be considered on an army wide basis and not just on operations Vietnam. They felt units in Europe would be hindered if this capability was taken away. As a bonus the group contended the airborne qualification increases a man’s ability and confidence. It is not that being a jumper is so important: it is the mere fact that a man has proven to himself that he can go through the training and overcome a natural fear, the fear of leaving an aircraft. He has accomplished something that he had probably felt was beyond his capability. He also has learned to pay attention to detail. You have to see a new jumper or a halo jumper check his equipment to see attention to detail.

An LRP team requires this meticulousness in preparing their weapons and equipment, in planning for the patrol, and in intelligence collecting and reporting. In the CIDG program all of the MIKE forces, Mobile Strike Forces and recon units are sent through jump training. The man who is cocky enough to jump out of an airplane will probably be more willing to move into that hole in enemy territory. Some felt the graduation from Recondo School should be a prerequisite for airborne pay but the majority were opposed to this since there are only a limited number of spaces at the Recondo School.

Interesting thoughts. Even today, 46 years later, most of the world’s elite forces undergo parachute training even if they will never, ever make an airborne insertion. And recent events have proven that an airborne insertion is still a useful capability.

The documents are worth the study, if you’re interested in these things. Part I is the conference, 50 pp: LRRP Conference 1968 Part 1.pdf; Part II is a presentation on Recondo School, 10 pp:LRRP Conference 1968 part II Recondo School.pdf.

The 1968 LRRP Conference on Weapons: Vol. I.

usarv_conference_coverA great deal of mythology about the M16, CAR-15 and other weapons in Vietnam continues to circulate. Here are real lessons-learned as discussed in a period document, the 2-part USARV Long Range Patrol Conference Summary, which discussed a conference held from 9-12 August 1968, in other words, at the height of the US Army’s combat involvement in the Vietnam War. While those attending were primarily officers in grades of 2LT through MG, they clearly brought the experience of the units most involved in running long-range patrols, including the “letter” Ranger companies then of the 51st Infantry Regiment, the greek-letter projects, Mike Forces, MACVSOG, the SAS from OZ, and the Special Forces-run RECONDO school, where LLRP leaders from many US and Allied units trained.

So what did they say about weapons (with, maybe, some operational and equipment digressions)?

f_51 LRP ScrollII Field Force Vietnam (Co. F., 51st Infantry (LRP)), p. 22-23:

Equipment carried by the patrol includes as little food and water as possible, M-16s, a Light Antitank Weapon (LAW), an M-79, and an M-60 MG with 700 rounds. The patrols remain in the area for five days and are extracted only if they have wounded personnel. If the wounds are slight, they will be treated and then reinserted.

Note that this is a 5-6 man patrol. F Company Rangers practiced what they called “saturation patrolling,” where 10 to 14 of these teams would be on the ground seeking the enemy. The heavy firepower assisted in breaking contact by “impersonating” a larger unit. Unlike some other long range patrol elements, they would not be extracted unless a member was wounded; their instruction, and ethos, was “break contact, continue mission.”

Harassing and interdictory (H&I) fire continues in the AO even while teams are being inserted or on the ground. To stop the fire signals the enemy something is happening. The teams move between the fires. The fires are plotted 800 meters from the team, except at night when defensive concentrations are as close as 300 meters or closer if desired.

Details like this, which would have been extremely useful to the enemy, are why the report was classified. It would not be declassified until 31 December 1974, long after the withdrawal of American forces.

In the III CTZ operation areas where shots are heard in the jungle all day, the teams snipe at close ranges. A noise suppressor would be beneficial to assist the sniping.

Another tactic especially effective at night is to set up a trip flare behind a team that is being pursued. If gunships are on the scene, they can fire at the trip flare when the enemy trips it.

Some of these TTPs would work just as well today as they did 50 years ago. Case in point.

The teams use the starlight scope and have found it effective. The LAW is used mainly as a psychological weapon to make the enemy think twice before assaulting a team. The weapon deceives the enemy as to the size of the team. Time pencils and fragmentation grenades are used, especially at night to mislead him on the location of the team. Claymores are used extensively. Wrist compasses are used also. .It saves the man from fiddling with the lensatic and getting it caught in the brush.

Many of these small defensive possibilities have been eliminated since then, by unilateral anti-mining decisions taken by American political leaders. No more grenades with a time fuze, or tripwire Claymores on your back trail. Note that these less-well-resourced patrollers didn’t get toe-poppers and minigrenades like SOG elements did. They didn’t even have CAR-15s:

Survival knives are on the MTOE but extremely hard to obtain. The M-l6, while a good weapon, is not as suitable to LRP operations as the CAR 15 because it is too long and catches in the brush. The present camouflage uniform tears easily and mosquitoes bite through the material. The CIDG tiger suit is better.

It was complaints like these about the ripstop ERDL camouflage uniform that led to the sweat-bag first edition of the abominable BDU — 12-15 years or so later. The survival knives were, of course, pilfered in the supply chain. That still happens; team guys would stop in at Camp Vance and see every clerk in the S4 wearing the high-speed gear intended for the teams but mysteriously never issued.

SAS CrestSpecial Air Service Regiment (Australian Army), pp. 24-25.

The XM 148 is used extensively by the Australians. The trigger arrangement is dangerous as issued–it catches on vines and fires unexpectedly–so it is cut off and the sear is used to fire the weapon. The sights are removed also. Since contact range is normally five to ten meters, the sights are not needed. One XM 148 is carried per patrol.

Another piece of equipment is an anchor device for the McGuire rig or for rappelling ropes. It can be fitted to the UH-l series helicopter in about five minutes and deploys six ropes, three on each side. A pull of a lever releases the rope in an emergency. The UH-IH can extract a six-man patrol with full equipment using this rig. The present McGuire rig lifts only three people and cannot be cut· away in an emergency.

The XM-148 was a Colt-designed grenade launcher (Colt nomenclature was CGL-1 through -4) that preceded the M203. AAI’s M203 would, a few years later, provide the same capability, but without any of the 148’s problems.

Yes, SASR really did roll with XM148s. Three troopers on right have them (left hand guy has an M203) on M16s and L1 FAL. Image source.

Yes, SASR really did roll with XM148s. Three troopers on right have them (left hand guy has an M203) on M16s and L1 FAL. Image source.

The SF STABO rig ultimately adopted that Australian innovation which was, as SAS Major Wade noted, quite superior to the improvised (but working) McGuire rig.

25th Infantry Division, Company F, 50th Infantry (LRP), p. 35:

75th ranger 25th ID scrollThe old AR belt is a very useful item of equipment. It has numerous pouches for ammunition or grenades, which distributes the weight and does not have to be taped. The wrist compass could replace the lensatic if it had a sighting device on it. It is accurate and handy, and is immediately available not in a pocket. Light weight web gear made from CS cannisters [sic] is being experimented with at the present time and also the M-16 noise suppressors. The new face camouflage made by Elizabnth Arden that is used by the SEAl.s seems better than our issue camoufhLge. The time pencils are very useful but hard to get.

The “old AR belt” that Captain Dawson of the 25th mentioned is the BAR belt. The then-standard Army issue equipment, the M-56 field gear, had metal buckles and snaps and, without a liberal application of green tape or duct tape, would make a patrol jingle like Santa’s reindeer. (Garrison-oriented commanders and especially sergeants major and first sergeants tended to oppose addition of tape to issue web gear, and it was a constant source of friction between combat troops and chairborne REMFs, until the M-56 and its equally shoddy successor, ALICE, passed out of service).

101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), Company F, 58th Infantry (LRP), pp. 37-38:

This is actually the later L/75th Ranger scroll. All these scrolls come from this site, airborne-ranger.com.

This is actually the later L/75th Ranger scroll; we didn’t find one for F/58. All these scrolls come from this site: airborne-ranger.com.

The 101st’s program seemed particularly mature and well-thought-out to exploit the Division’s copious helicopter mobility. While their notes on operations and ARVN integration were most personally interesting, they had some interesting observations on weapons and equipment, too:

The use of CS dropped by helicopters has proven successful but required the team to take a gas mask along. This is deemed worth the extra effort. …

Air support is preferred to artillery in the AO due to triple canopy vegetation. It is difficult to observe and adjust ar tillery and a LFT can respond in 10 to 15 minutes.

The first light insertion is utilized most frequently. It allows reaction in case of contact on or near the LZ and an air relay, a U-1A Otter from Phu Bai. can standby during insertion or until the team establishes communication with the base camp or ground relay station. The teams do not move during the noon period or when another team is in contact because a team is less likely to be discovered when it is stationary.

The standard 65-foot Chinook suspension ladder cut in half and strung through a UH-1 model helicopter so that about 12 feet hangs down on each side is effective for insertion and extraction in stumpy areas, thickly vegetated areas, over uneven ground or where rotary clearance is needed. Rappelling is used also but its use makes McGuire rig extraction required, and this is avoided when possible. However, one McGuire rig wHh handcuffs on the riser is used to extract prisoners.

The company has three British Sten guns with silencers which are extremely quiet. They have not been fired in the course of an operation although they were taken along.

36th Mobile Strike Force Command, Vol. 1, p. 42:

(probably fake) mike force patchThe patrols carry one AN/PRC-25 radio with two headsets per patrol (the headset has proven to be the most likely part of system to fail). Their base station has an RTT capability and single side band in addition to the AN/GRC-46 radios. The Americans a.re armed with the CAR-I5 and the Cambodians carry the M-16. There are Sten guns and two pistols, all with silencers, available in the unit. Three of the American members carry the Swedish K submachinegun.

“Swedish K” was the Special Forces nickname for the Swedish Carl Gustav M45B submachine gun, which was commonly carried with 36-round box magazines but could also use 50-round Suomi magazines by removing a retaining pin and magazine housing. We think they could also use the Suomi drum but never tried it ourselves!

The Swedish M45B was copied in Egypt as the "Port Said." It is a typical 2nd-Genrration SMG.

The Swedish M45B was copied in Egypt as the “Port Said,” which is the version seen here (file photo). It is a typical 2nd-Genrration SMG.

The MACV Recondo School, p. 49:

recondopatchPersonal appearance is deemed important by the school. While a student is at school, the individual is required to maintain a high standard of personal hygiene and appearance. Mustaches must be nearly trimmed, haircuts must be short, and the normal appearance ·of an elite l.RP trooper does not include rings in ears Qr bracelets. The school is a MACV school and these standards must be maintained.

The school had previously mentioned some problems they were having with unmotivated students (definitely a problem as Recondo school used the enemy as a training aid). It attributed these woes to poor selection and neglect of published selection standards by sending unit. The school listed the goodies each student got, as well as some problems with what he was expected to bring along:

… provide each graduate with six Recondo patches and a diploma. Honor graduate receives a
special knife purchased from the fund.

USARV Regulation 350-2 contains a list of equipment that the individual should bring to the school with him. Many students do not realize this and the school does not have enough facilities to provide this equipment for every student. Critical items are camouflage fatigues and M-16 magazines.

So as early as 1968, the training base and the troop units were already scamming M16 mags (in those days, 20-rounders) from one another.

One little detail: everywhere in this report M16 (which is the weapon’s actual designation, although the Army model was always the XM16E1/M16A1) is rendered as M-16. This instantiates the well-known idea that, even though an item’s official nomenclature is one thing, the troops may call it something different — even in official reports.

IIIrd Marine Amphibious Force (1st & 3rd Recon Battalions), p. 45.

Once again, the Marine contribution was most interesting for their tactics and operation art, very different from any of the Army approaches. But they did have this to say about weapons, and interesting take on CS gas (non-lethal tear gas):

One way of using CS is to employ it by fixed wing. A ton of it can be placed in the napalm tanks with sand to get it through the jungle canopy. It can saturate 4,000 square meters :in five minutes. It is a good technique for taking prisoners but an extra gas mask must be taken along for the prisoner or he will die.

So, even with normally non-lethal gas, the dose makes the poison. One suspects that was learned at the expense of some fellow named Nguyen.

Note well: these comments are all from Volume I of the Conference proceedings. There’s more cool stuff in the shorter Volume II but we’re already knocking on the door of 2,000 words, awfully long for a web article.

UPDATE

The documents, if you please: Part I is the conference, 50 pp: LRRP Conference 1968 Part 1.pdf; Part II is a presentation on Recondo School, 10 pp:LRRP Conference 1968 part II Recondo School.pdf.

Whining Their Way Up: Women Demand Equal Results for Unequal Effort

Some months ago, in April, actually, we noted the whinging of failed Marine infantry officer Sage Santangelo. She bombed out of the infantry officers’ course, and then hit the WaPo in a welter of finger-pointing.

Here’s a blog entry that we missed at the time, in which a real infantry Marine lets her have it.

In going to General Amos you proved that you are not interested in being a leader. You’re interested in a career. Amos gave you special treatment because you’re a woman, which you accepted. I wonder what General Mattis would have told you. Either way, you’re not qualified to lead troops and they’re going to put you into an administrative billet that’s going to be a cakewalk. It might be great for your career, but I imagine your command is going to hide you in a corner because you’ve already proven that if you have a problem, you’re going to go to the media (when some ruck runs might have been more fruitful to your conditioning, Devil).

Yep, I just devil-dogged you, ma’am. Since I’m a civilian, I’ll even throw in a fully modified knife hand for this next part.

Did any of the 24 male Marines who didn’t pass your IOC class get a sweet-talk from the Commandant? No. Did they go to the Washington Post to complain about it? No. They’re probably training to take the course a second time. What about the other female 2nd Lieutenants, were they given a career boosting deployment to Afghanistan? No. Not to mention, those 24 men were trained to the standard that you say would have allowed you to pass the course, so what caused their failure? I  agree that women should be given a second chance to take IOC, but you have to take responsibility for your lack of preparation. In combat, you can’t call the Commandant. You take charge of the troops under you or good men (and women) die. Aren’t there leadership principles (that you learned in The Basic School) that lay this out for you? # 11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

“We need to set women up to succeed in combat roles,” you said. To put it another way, women need special treatment. This undermines your whole argument of women being equally capable of serving in combat. The Marine Corps needs self-starters in leadership roles, especially in counterinsurgency operations and asymmetric warfare. We don’t promise you a rose garden either, an old recruiting poster states to potential female recruits. Perhaps you need a reminder that it’s called serving your country, and not the other way around.

via Dear 2nd Lt. Santangelo, the Marine Corps Promised You a Rose Garden. | Don’t Ever Call Me A Hero.

The likelihood of Santangelo taking any of this advice? Zero. She’s already learned that all she has to do is pout and whine and be daddy’s girl to the dotty old commandant. Her career, her sole focus, is irredeemably tainted with the stench of special pleading and special favors. Nothing she achieves from here on out will lack an asterisk.

Award-Winning Essay: Women Do Not Belong in the Infantry

rangerette-benjaminLauren Serrano is a Marine officer, and one dedicated to the idea that women ought to serve in the ways that are best for them, and best for the service. It is clearly with great reluctance that she stepped up and touched the Third Rail of military PC these days: the women-in-combat issue. She wrote an essay about it. She submitted it to a Marine Corps Association contest. And she won 1st Prize in the “MajGen Harold W. Chase Prize Essay Contest” for her entry.

She’s going to have a lot of the Sisterhood mad at her. But if a Marine officer can’t take it, who can? Here’s just a taste of her excellent essay:

My argument has little to do with whether women can pass the Infantry Officer Course or Infantry Training Battalion, or endure the hardships of combat. Even those select women who can physically endure the infantry are still posing a threat to the infantry mission and readiness. Female Marines who want to stir the pot by joining the infantry ranks are more interested in their careers than the needs of the Corps—they are selfish. 2dLt Sage Santangelo’s recent article in The Washington Post about why women are failing Infantry Officer Course argued that “the Marine Corps needs to set women up to succeed in combat roles.”2 Why? How will that contribute to a better fighting force, the needs of the Marine Corps, and the success of young enlisted Marines? The time, energy, and conflict associated with setting women up for success in infantry billets will not make the Marine Corps more combat effective.

I have no doubt that there are women who can pass initial infantry schools—and I applaud their strength. However, as Capt Katie Petronio argued in her 2013 Gazette article, “Get Over It! We are not all created equal,” long infantry careers for female Marines will eventually lead to career-ending medical conditions as they get older and their bodies are unable to withstand the years of constant infantry training.3 For the already fiscally strained military, this will lead to an increase in medically retired Marines who rate medical financial support for the rest of their lives.

You would be well advised to Read The Whole Thing™ on the Marine Corps Association website. Among the other points she makes in the article:

  • The people who are pushing this have the least experience in the military. For example, the officers in favor tend to be green 2nd Lieutenants, and a lot of the support comes from people who have never served in the military.
  • Even the careerists who think this is a ticket punch they need for their imagined Courtney Massengale careers are probably wrong: the Marines (like the other services) have a lot of jobs outside of direct ground combat where good leaders are prized — and promoted.
  • She points out that examples like Israel and Kurdistan are not on point, because in those cases the women fight because the alternative is extermination (actually, the Kurds are a bad example, as we’ve seen, but she’s been conned by the same PR campaign that has conned so many).
  • Then, there’s what the military euphemistically calls, “fraternization.” Our Marine’s take on it:

Women in the Marine Corps are already in better shape than the average civilian and it can be assumed that any infantry woman will be a physical specimen. In the young, testosterone-filled infantry ranks, this is asking for love triangles, unit drama, and the potential for intraunit relationships. Platoon commanders in co-ed units already deal with a tremendous amount of drama, pregnancies, and sex in the co-ed unit barracks. Each time an issue arises, the platoon leadership spends a lot of time switching Marines’ barracks rooms, billets, etc.

And finally, there’s the involuntary side of sexual attraction, the sexual-assault and -harassment angle, something the writer has seen from a number of diverse angles.

There’s a lot to read here, so do Read The Whole Thing™ and let us know in comments where you agree (or not). For our part, we strongly agree with the sentiment in Capt Serrano’s essay. Note that it is that Women do not belong in the Infantry, not that Women do not belong in the Marines (or the Army, or Special Operations Forces). Because they do belong there (and she actually cites a SOF example in the essay). But there are things, frankly, that men are better at and women are better at. Infantry’s mission (and that of DA-oriented SOF elements) is to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver. When women are Division 1 college football and other contact-sports players, then they’ll be ready for the grunts. Not before.

Army Ranger Chicks — Official Message

Soon available in ladies' sizes....

Soon available in ladies’ sizes….

This is the original source document, documenting the first half of the story we had last week — yep, they want chicks in Ranger School. Note that this is a “recruiting effort” directed by the command, but they specify that women will not be commanded to attend. The second part, about the women commissars, was in a separate ALARACT (ALl ARmy ACTivities) message. We note that, while units must fund the attendance of their men at this school, word is that some DA slush fund will fund the attendance of these women, so it costs units nothing to send their females except the absence from duty. (That’s probably why they had to order them not to order women to attend, or every unpleasant female in the Army would be Benning-bound in early ’15 while her leaders and subordinates relaxed). They want a headcount by 1 Nov 14 and names of volunteers by 1 Dec. Other than that, no editorial comment on this. Read our original story for that! — Eds.


SUBJ/ALARACT 222/2014 - FEMALE STUDENTS FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY
MANEUVER CENTER OF EXCELLENCE (MCOE) RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT
THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED BY US ARMY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
AGENCY (USAITA) ON BEHALF OF HEADQUARTERS, US ARMY TRAINING AND
DOCTRINE COMMAND (TRADOC)
SUBJECT: FEMALE STUDENTS FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY MANEUVER CENTER
OF EXCELLENCE (MCOE) RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT
NARR/(U) PURPOSE OF THIS MESSAGE IS TO SEEK ARMY-WIDE SUPPORT OF
ELIGIBLE FEMALE STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MCOE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT(DECISION REGARDING EXECUTION OF ASSESSMENT WILL BE MADE IN
JANUARY 2015).
1. (U) BACKGROUND: AS PART OF THE ARMY SOLDIER 2020 INITIATIVE TO
ENSURE THE BEST-QUALIFIED SOLDIERS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE IN
ANY POSITION WHERE THEY ARE CAPABLE OF PERFORMING TO STANDARD, THE
MCOE MAY CONDUCT A RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT IN 3RD QTR FY15 (EXACT
DATES TBD).
1.A. (U) MCOE MAY CONDUCT A RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT TO INFORM FUTURE
DECISION MAKING.
1.B. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS SELECTED TO ATTEND THE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT (EXACT CLASS TBP) WILL BE REQUIRED TO MEET ALL COURSE
PERFORMANCE STANDARDS AND TRAINING REQUIREMENTS.
2. (U) ARMY COMMANDS (ACOMS), ARMY SERVICE COMPONENT COMMANDS
(ASCCS), AND DIRECT REPORTING UNITS (DRUS) WILL CONDUCT A RECRUITING
EFFORT TO IDENTIFY FEMALE VOLUNTEERS FOR THE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT.
3. (U) PREREQUISITES FOR ENTRY INTO THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT CAN
BE FOUND IN THE ARMY TRAINING REQUIREMENTS AND RESERVATION SYSTEM
(ATRRS). ADDITIONAL STUDENT INFORMATION AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
CAN BE FOUND ON THE AIRBORNE AND RANGER TRAINING BRIGADE (ARTB) WEB-
SITE UNDER THE STUDENT INFORMATION LINK
(HTTP://WWW.BENNING.ARMY.MIL/INFANTRY/RTB/)
3.A. (U) ADMINISTRATIVE RESTRICTIONS PROHIBITING WOMEN FROM ATTENDING
THE RANGER COURSE ARE SUSPENDED FOR SELECTION INTO THE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT.
3.A.1. (U) THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT IS OPEN TO ALL FEMALE
VOLUNTEERS IN THE GRADES E4-O4.
3.A.2. (U) FEMALE SOLDIERS MUST BE VOLUNTEERS. FEMALE SOLDIERS WILL
NOT BE DIRECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT.
3.A.3. (U) ALL FEMALE VOLUNTEERS MUST HAVE AN END TERM OF SERVICE
(ETS) NO EARLIER THAN 01 OCTOBER 2016.
3.A.4. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS MUST COMPLETE AN APPROVED RANGER
PHYSICAL EXAMINATION (DD FORM 2807-1, DD FORM 2807-2, AND DD FORM
2808) AND AUDIOGRAM (DD FORM 2216) PERFORMED IAW AR 40-501, CHAPTER
8. FEMALE VOLUNTEERS MUST PROVIDE COPIES OF ALL LABORATORY OR
SPECIALIZED CONSULTATIONS SIGNED BY A DOCTOR AND DENTIST, DATED
WITHIN 18 MONTHS OF COURSE START DATE. VOLUNTEERS MUST MEET MEDICAL
FITNESS STANDARDS IAW AR 40-501, CHAPTERS 2, 5-3, AND 5-4.
ADDITIONALLY, VOLUNTEERS MUST PROVIDE A CURRENT COPY OF MEDPROS THAT
INCLUDES A ROUTINE ADULT + H1N1 MODULE AND A ROUTINE IMMUNIZATION
SUMMARY.
3.A.5. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS WILL BE ADMINISTERED A PREGNANCY TEST
DURING IN-PROCESSING. POSITIVE TESTS WILL RESULT IN DISENROLLMENT.
3.A.6. (U) ALL FEMALE VOLUNTEERS WILL BE REQUIRED TO ATTEND THE US
ARMY NATIONAL GUARD, RANGER TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE (RTAC)
CONDUCTED AT FT BENNING, COLUMBUS, GA PRIOR TO ENROLLMENT IN THE
RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT CLASS.
3.A.7. (U) ALL RTAC COURSE (ATRRS) RESERVATIONS, IN SUPPORT OF THE
RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT, WILL BE COORDINATED THROUGH THE US ARMY
INFANTRY SCHOOL (USAIS).
3.A.8. (U) ALL FEMALE VOLUNTEERS WILL HAVE A COPY OF THEIR COMMANDERS
VALIDATION LETTER FOR IN-PROCESSING. IN-PROCESSING PREREQUISITE
INFORMATION, INCLUDING AN EXAMPLE COMMANDERS VALIDATION LETTER, CAN
BE FOUND ON THE ARTB WEB SITE UNDER THE STUDENT INFORMATION LINK
(HTTP://WWW.BENNING.ARMY.MIL/INFANTRY/RTB/).
3.A.9. (U) THE COMMANDERS VALIDATION LETTER WILL CERTIFY ALL
PARTICIPANTS ARE PROFICIENT ON RANGER TASKS AND RANGER ASSESSMENT
PHASE REQUIREMENTS, INCLUDING: THE RANGER PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT (49
PUSH-UPS, 59 SIT-UPS, 5-MILE RUN IN 40 MINUTES, and 6 CHIN-UPS); 12-
MILE FOOTMARCH IN 3 HOURS; THE COMBAT WATER SURVIVAL ASSESSMENT
(CWSA); AND LAND NAVIGATION. THE 12-MILE FOOTMARCH IS CONDUCTED IN
THE ARMY COMBAT UNIFORM, BOOTS, FIGHTING LOAD CARRIER (FLC), PATROL
CAP, AND RUCKSACK WEIGHING A MINIMUM OF 35 LBS (WITHOUT WATER) WHILE
CARRYING AN INDIVIDUAL WEAPON.
3.B. (U) VOLUNTEER IDENTIFICATION AND ENROLLMENT TIMELINE.
3.B.1. (U) UNITS WILL PROVIDE USAIS THE NUMBER OF POTENTIAL
ASSESSMENT VOLUNTEERS NLT 3 NOV 14.
3.B.2. (U) UNITS WILL PROVIDE USAIS STANDARD NAME LINE INFORMATION OF
ASSESSMENT VOLUNTEERS NLT 1 DEC 14.
3.B.3. (U) DETAILED SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND INFORMATION WILL BE
PUBLISHED IN A SUPPLEMENTAL MESSAGE. ALL ATRRS RANGER COURSE SEATS
FOR THIS ASSESSMENT WILL BE HELD AND MANAGED BY THE USAIS.
3.C. (U) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
3.C.1. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO COMPLETE THE 90-DAY
RANGER COURSE PREPARATION PROGRAM ON THE ARTB WEB SITE
(HTTP://WWW.BENNING.ARMY.MIL/INFANTRY/RTB/).
3.C.2. (U) ALL WOMEN WHO SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE AND GRADUATE FROM THE
RANGER COURSE WILL RECEIVE A GRADUATION CERTIFICATE AND BE AWARDED,
AND AUTHORIZED TO WEAR, THE RANGER TAB. UNTIL FUTURE INTEGRATION
DECISIONS ARE MADE AND REQUIREMENTS UNDER TITLE 10 US CODE, SECTION
652 ARE SATISFIED, FEMALE GRADUATES WILL NOT RECEIVE THE ASSOCIATED
RANGER SKILL IDENTIFIERS OR BE ASSIGNED TO RANGER CODED UNITS OR
POSITIONS.
4. (U) FUNDING INFORMATION FOR ASSESSMENT PARTICIPANT ATTENDANCE AT
RTAC AND THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT WILL BE PUBLISHED IN A
SUPPLEMENTAL MESSAGE.
5. (U) POINTS OF CONTACT (POCS).
5.A. (U) INITIAL REQUESTS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WILL BE SENT TO
THE USAIS AT USARMY.BENNING.TRADOC.MBX.OCOIWEB@MAIL.MIL OR BY VOICE
MESSAGE AT (706) 545-0458; DSN 835-0458
5.B. (U) INDIVIDUAL POCS (FOR FUNDING, ORDERS, AND ATRRS) WILL BE
IDENTIFIED IN SUPPLEMENTAL MESSAGES.

The Kurdish Women Warriors — Fiction and Fact

Arturo in comments asked about the women in the Pesh Merga’s infantry outfit, which have, it turns out, been held out as an example of the potential of women in infantry combat. And they’re largely (per the photos) rather pretty looking, which is the opposite of what the Army’s PR flacks were asking for last year.

Kurdish Chick Fighters5

Yeah, they’re quite a thing — in the western media, something the PKK is rather adept at manipulating. The stories have appeared in more Western outlets than we can count, and the Kurdish women have been cited in a Marine Corps Association award-winning essay (which we’ll cover here soon) by a decorated woman Marine officer. But there’s a Potemkin Village aspect to these female units.

In actual fact, while the Pesh Merga have some stone-hard killers and guerilla fighters, and while their women are committed as can be to the success of their resistance, the female unit is not engaged in ground combat, despite the media narrative. One dead give-away: the gals are always depicted in shiny, fresh, new uniforms. Usually with earrings and make-up. The US press, in particular, zeroes in on the most attractive females.  This should surprise nobody — look at any Cosmopolitan cover to see what turns American feminists on.

Tough, but vulnerable, lady Death Eater seeks American reporters as pen pals, reply to Box 069, Irbil.

Tough, but vulnerable, lady Death Eater seeks American reporters as pen pals, reply to Box 069, Irbil.

Apart from the racy bra-strap shots (trust us, that is racy in the Middle East) there’s the obligatory images of women doing hand-to-hand on other women. Quentin Tarantino has made a whole career of staging these kinds of cat fights.

"And then, the ISIL guy left the toilet seat up! Eeeyaaargghhh!"

“And then, the ISIL guy left the toilet seat up! Eeeyaaargghhh!”

But the most recent (Aug-Sep 2014) spate of Kurdish Amazonia is me-too journalism at its “best.” In alphabetic order by outlet:

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/iraq-kurdistan-female-regiment-peshmerga-fight-is.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-female-fighters-kurds-20140910-photogallery.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/499372/Female-fighters-of-the-Peshmerga-who-are-fighting-against-the-Islamic-State

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/02/isis-fighters-terrified-death-at-hands-female-pkk-warriors/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anushay-hossain/kurdish-female-fighters_b_5689904.html

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/08/167994-meet-isiss-worst-nightmare-women-battalion-kurdish-fighters/

http://mashable.com/2014/09/12/pkk-women-fighters-battling-isis/

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/09/01/female-pkk-fighters-may-be-isils-worst-nightmare.html
(this is a repop of the Stars and Stripes article. Some of the others may be dupes, too).

http://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow-daily/watch/meet-the-women-warriors-fighting-isis-320578627605
(video repop of the Vocativ article).

http://nypost.com/2014/08/14/kurdish-women-take-up-arms-against-islamic-state/

http://www.stripes.com/news/female-fighters-of-the-pkk-may-be-the-islamic-state-s-worst-nightmare-1.300259

http://www.vocativ.com/world/iraq-world/female-peshmerga-fighters/

Pack journalism is alive and well.

Note that as the outlet gets more American and more liberal, the focus on the most attractive women in the photos increases (NTTAWWT, some Kurdish women are very beautiful!) and the degree to which the writers extrapolate from these women’s combat exploits to the future of women in the US service increases. For example, the HuffPo claims that the 2nd Battalion singlehandedly recaptured the Mosul Dam. Er, no. They didn’t. Vocativ’s story, by two feminists, naturally, is full of unintelligible undergrad gender-theory cant and claims the unit was a reaction to ISIL (it dates to the Clinton era, FFS. 1996 — if not earlier. And it was a reaction to Saddam’s attacks on the Kurds). Why, gender roles are so broken down in the Pesh Merga that the women are organized in their own battalions, like the US did in WWII, and segregated from the men.

Kurdish Chick Fighters4

To give you an idea what the PKK really thinks of the unit, the female battalion commanders (LTC or jr. COL) report to a female brigade commander (COL)… who reports to a male lieutenant. Note also that all the photos are close-ups of individuals or small groups. The one shot we saw of a “large” formation had 18 women in it … being marched by a lieutenant colonel.

We’re sure ISIL are quaking in their sandals, and soiling their manjams. But then, these gals would probably stand and fight better than the Iraqi Army has done so far. (At least the Syrians, damn their eyes, are fighting).

Iraq: Women Peshmerga Of The 2nd Battalion Military Exercise

On second thought, screw “vulnerable.” Eat lead, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi! (Well, technically, “Eat steelcore.” But you get the idea).

But story after story talks about the combat prowess and exploits of these women, with no evidence at all. Well, we’re going to give one one data point of evidence. A real, no-$#!+ indicator of the combat-arms status of the unit comes from the NY Post story:

Although there have been no battle losses during the 18-year history of the 2nd Battalion, three soldiers were injured in 2003 during the battle of Kirkuk as the US invaded Iraq.

Got it? They’re not only superwomen, they’re also bulletproof! (Or maybe they, like the cameras that capture them so often, aren’t exactly in the front lines).

The Iranians have show units of women like this, too, which may be where the PKK got this predigested-for-lazy-journalists idea. So did Libyan oddjob Muammar Qadhafi. It looks like there are one or two stringers with photogs who went to press events in Irbil, and the rest of Journo World is all just copying off each other and making up more details.

Lethal aid for the Kurds is finally flowing though (which may be why the Turks’ noses are out of joint, or it may just be that Erdogan’s islamists are siding with their Islamic State pals). The US aid that’s enumerated in these articles is all ammo: 7.62 x 39, 14.5mm, and all sizes of comblock mortar rounds. (We’re taking “80mm” as a typo or journalist or PR-flack “braino”). The US is making pinprick raids on individual ISIL vehicles or emplacements, with one eye on domestic politics (“We better look like we’re doing something, we’re getting killed in the polls.”)

Bottom line — we have no doubt that Kurdish women are willing to fight. We’ve heard more than one Afghan woman express her desire to cut some Taliban throats. Remember that every Kurdish family has tales of victimization (and not the bullshit “microaggressions” that pampered collegiates whine about over here. Real, macro aggressions that leave family members dead). But they probably serve their country best in this propaganda role, frankly. Of course, that means we’re going to be hearing for decades from Social Justice Warriors™ and Women In Sensible Shoes® about ever-more-exaggerated Peshmerga-ette exploits.

We’ll tell people we’re reading the articles, but we’ll probably just look at the pictures.

 

Note

This story is a follow-up, thematically at least, to Breaking: Rangerettes, two different kinds! from 13 Sep 14, a report on the Army brass’s latest moves towards women in combat arms. We continue to develop the situation.