Women in Ranger School: Two Made It

When the first co-ed Ranger School class began, the first week had much promise: eight of them, out of 19, made it through the first week. This prompted critics to wonder if the standards had been lowered. Personally, I was not so sure: most of RAP week is PT, and there are women who can handle extreme PT.

Then, in the Darby Phase, reality kicked in. Of those eight, five washed out. Three of them, after washing out of Darby twice, were given a “Day 1 restart”, meaning they had to recycle through Ranger School, starting on Day 1 of RAP week.

All three of them made it through RAP week, and all passed the Darby Phase.

One had to recycle the Mountain Phase, and two of them made it through the Mountain Phase.

Those two would go on to complete the Florida Phase–in spite of the lightning–and graduate.

Not surprisingly, both are West Point grads.

While critics may argue that the Ranger School standards were lowered, I’m willing to give these ladies the benefit of the doubt. After all, a lot of men washed out of Ranger School, too.

My argument against women in Ranger School is a cost-benefit issue–and I’ll stick to that, given that, out of over 120 women who volunteered, only 20 qualified to get in, and only 19 showed up for the first day, and only 2 made it–and not about whether some can handle it.

Still, I’ll tip my cap to these two who earned the Ranger Tab. That is quite an accomplishment.

Women in Ranger School, Part 3

That eight women made it through RAP week of Ranger School was impressive. I didn’t think that many would make it into the Darby Phase.

While none of the eight passed the Darby Phase on the first try, they were eligible to recycle.

However, none made it on the second try: five were bounced out of Ranger School, while three are eligible for a “Day 1 Recycle”: they will have to re-take Ranger School, starting with RAP week.

Women in Ranger School, Part 2

The first co-ed Ranger School class began on April 20 with great fanfare and promise: of the the 19 women who showed up, only three failed the first day. In percentage terms, their Day 1 performance was better than the men.

By the end of the week, however, only 8 of those women remained. Still, that was better than many skeptics–myself included–were predicting. I figured a couple would make it to the Darby Phase, and none would make it to the Florida Phase.

Well, if this is any indication, I was half correct: all 8 women failed the Darby Phase and must re-take it.

While it is not at all uncommon for Ranger School grads to “recycle” at least one phase–most in fact end up doing that–it’s going to be a tall order for these gals to regroup after the Darby Phase, given that (a) two phases–the Mountain Phase and the Florida Phase–remain, and those are harder, and (b) the extra endurance load that this requires on their bodies.

Weight loss of at least 20 pounds is very common in Ranger School, and it’s not like the women have that much weight to lose to begin with. Having to recycle is going to subject them to extra food deprivation. It’s tough enough if you’re a 220-pound linebacker; it’s not as easy if you’re a 140-pound woman who is lean.

Psychologically, it’s one thing to recycle the “Florida Phase”, when you know it’s the last one, whereas the Darby Phase is only the first phase. It can be done, but the eight women who are recycling now have their work cut out for them.

If they make it through Darby, then more power to them.

Having said that, their road just got an order of magnitude tougher.

New Book About Korean War and No Kum-Sok

Blaine Harden, author of Escape From Camp 14, has written a new book, The Great Leader And The Fighter Pilot, which chronicles the rise of Kim Il-Sung, key milestones in the Korean War, and the life of No Kum-Sok (Kenneth Rowe), who would defect to the United States by flying a MiG-15 into Kimpo Air Base in South Korea on 21 September 1953.

In 1996, No and Embry-Riddle humanities professor Roger Osterholm co-wrote A MiG-15 to Freedom.

Both are absolutely fascinating reads.

Wasted Ranger School Slots?

It appears that Fort Benning is going to be seeing women in the next cycle of Ranger School.

Personally, I think the Army is wasting time here. While it is entirely possible that there may be a woman or two who are capable of handling the physical and psychological rigors of Ranger School, I find it highly improbable. Among the guys, getting into Ranger School is not easy, and–even then–a lot of folks get punched out in the FIRST DAY.

The endurance challenge alone causes many otherwise good men to drop. Others get bounced for performance: they weather the storm, but perhaps don’t show adequate leadership worthy of the Ranger Tab.

If the Marine Corps infantry courses–enlisted and officer–are any indication, the women are going to get dropped in droves out of Ranger School. To date, only four women have passed the Marine Corps Infantry basic course, and ZERO have passed the officer version.

And Ranger School is harder than that.

Maybe Professor Hale has other thoughts on this, but I just don’t see this working out well at all.

He Was An Idiot

I don’t usually say this about folks in our military Special Operations community, as they tend to be fairly bright folks. The person in question in this case, in fact, was in SEAL Team 6/DEVGRU/Whatever its real name is, and was supposedly involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. So I know he isn’t a stupid man.

But seriously, I’m not even in the military and EVEN I know that, if you leave short of 20 years, you are not going to be eligible for retirement benefits.

As for whether he was the trigger man who shot Osama bin Laden, we may never know. Still, I believe Matt Bissonette’s story–chronicled in the book No Easy Day. The outcry against Bissonette has not been with regard to his accuracy, but rather his telling of the story. That tells me he is probably on the money.

Whoever this guy is who calls himself “The Shooter”, why can’t he go into security work. I hear that SEALs and Rangers and Special Operators–who leave the service–are fetching pretty high dollars in security work. I’d say that being a veteran of SEAL Team 6–which typically has the best of the best of the SEAL community–would carry an advantage going into such work.

On the Brink with North Korea

The Korean War never really ended. Only a truce prevents the resumption of hostilities. Should those resume, it will be ugly all the way around, with high death tolls among our troops, the South Koreans, and the North Koreans. We could lose more troops in the first month of a resumed Korean War than we lost in the last ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And no one will win.

We will suffer because we lacked the determination to finish the job 60 years ago. Gen. Douglas MacArthur had the right strategy. We could have beaten China and Russia. It would have been ugly, but had we done the job then, there would have been no Vietnam, no Cultural Revolution in China, no slaughter in Cambodia, no Fidel Castro in Cuba, no Che Guevara, and the North Koreans would be part of a free Korea.

It would not have been the end of evil–countries have an uncanny habit of finding excuses to fight each other–but we would have slain the diabolical monster known as Marxist-Leninism, which has killed more people in peacetime than anything else in world history. But Truman lacked the stones.

And China will pay a huge price as well: without their active–and passive–aid of North Korea, MacArthur would have steamrolled North Korea. While we initially had a bad start in that war, we recovered well and were on the way to victory. That is, until China started sending troops across the Yalu River.

Now, China has to deal with a nuclear threat next door, which has a starving population and very unstable leadership in both military and executive levels.

So here we are today.