Monday, August 24, 2015

A Patch Pinned & History Made

The "tab" of the U.S. Army Rangers, Wikipedia/U.S. Army, public domain

Greetings All:

This past week, with the act of pinning a patch on two Soldiers' shoulders, history was made.  Captain (CPT) Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant (1LT) Shaye Haver graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School, the first female Soldier to earn this distinction.  It is an amazing achievement and I heartily congratulate both of them.

Ranger school is not for the faint of heart.  Equally disqualifying are those with a fondness for more than three hours of sleep and filling meals.  Instead, Ranger candidates are fed a steady diet of physical and mental taxation, strive and suffering.  Oh, and by the way, while this is all going on, they are first learning then expected to lead others in small unit military tactics.  I doubt I'd last a week, more likely a day in this "finishing school" for soldiering.  

In the sources, I've got links to the NYT's article about these two Soldiers and also information about Ranger school.  As I am attempting (stress attempting) to keep my blog posts shorter, I will skip a long review of the Army Rangers.  I do want to mention that Rangers have long been at the tip of the Army's spear of combat-arms specialists.  As I recall, it was during some of the most bloody fighting on D-Day, Brigadier General Norm Cota shoutedd the now famous phrase, "...Rangers lead the way!"  

And they did.  And they have.  For decades, Rangers are some of the finest Soldiers the world has ever, or will ever see.  You may recall that former NFL star Pat Tillman walked away from millions of dollars to enlist in the U.S. Army.  What did he choose for his assignment?  The U.S. Army Rangers.

It was only recently that women were allowed to first try out and then attend this and other combat-specific schools.  As my friend Matt pointed out, some in the talk-radio world howled their displeasure at this decision.  They decryed it as, "political correctness again run amuk!"  These...commentators also gleefully predicted these ladies failure and just could not wait to say, "I told you so!"

Guess what?  They made it.  They are Rangers.  The world did not end.  There is not stallion feces littering our streets from the galloping of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," at this occurrence.  

It took almost 65 years from when the first Ranger class graduated for women to earn the right to wear the black and gold tab of the Rangers.  Yet 1LT Haver and CPT Griest did it. 

The first graduating class of Army Rangers, Nov 1950, Wikipedia/U.S. Army, public domain.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter offered these comments about the graduation of CPT Haver and 1LT  Griest: “Like every Ranger serving today, they'll help lead the finest fighting force the world has ever known,...”  I'm going to come back to that statement. 
Rangers are clearly a unique breed of Soldiers.  As I understand it, one must be a graduate of the following:  Basic military training; the three-week Army parachute school (completing 5 jumps); and other accession and testing before even entering Ranger training.  

Whether or not one actually serves in one of the Ranger Battalions (The 75th Ranger Regiment), all Rangers are held to an incredibly high standard.  That standard might be best summed up in the "Ranger Creed," citation noted below,


ecognizing that I volunteered as a ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my ranger regiment.

cknowledging the fact that a ranger is a more elite soldier, who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a ranger, my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.

ever shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

allantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

nergetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

eadily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.


This is the same creed all Rangers recite at many times in their lives.  In fact, retired General Stanley McChrystal used part of the creed as the title (a great read, BTW) for his memoirs, My Share of the Task.  I have a link to his book in the sources.  If you would like to learn more about what life is like in the Army Rangers, please check out Gen McChrystal's book.

As I alluded to above, there was some/a lot of grumbling if not outrage that such an elite training program as Ranger School would be open to women.  The satire website The Duffle Blog (the military version of The Onion) has been having a field day with numerous posts, poking fun at some of this blowback. 

Some of The Duffle Blog's post are not that funny and others simply gutter humor.  However, I have links to a couple below that are hihilarious examples of good satire.  My favorite is, "Special Forces, 75th Rangers Build 'No Girls Allowed' Club House."

In fact, it is humorous enough to warrant a link within this blog post:

The joke, of course, is the "lamenting" of yet another male bastion of exclusivity has crumbled.  I don't want to be hypocrite.  There have been times, numerous times, I have enjoyed being "with the guys."  Yet our national security is too important to deny anyone qualified to serve the chance just due to some gender status.

Now with that being said, you'll get no argument from me that one should be, must be, qualified and trained for their job.  Case in point:  CPT Griest is an Apache attack helicopter pilot.  Due to my eyesight (and pathetic math skills) I would not be qualified to do this job.  I also think that the Army will place her back into this assignment.  I am certain that should the men she trained with ever need close-air support (CAS) they will be profoundly grateful she is flying above them, raining fire on enemy positions, than on the ground with them.

As to whether or not women will actually be authorized to serve in the "combat arms" branches, the jury is still out on that one.  It is folly to ignore that there are demanding, almost sadistic physical requirements for these aspects of military service.  It may be the case that women simply do not have the physical attributes to perform these specific jobs.  Just as I think it is wrong to deny training to someone because of their gender, it is equally wrong to not consider the facts in assigning the right person to the right job.

This, by the way, has nothing to do with courage or the ability to display bravery on the battlefield.  Women have and will continue to be just as lethal as their male counterparts.  I came across this story about female fighters taking on ISIS:

All-women warrior brigade formed to fight ISIS

"A popular Yazidi folk singer has formed an all-female fighting brigade in Iraq called the “Sun Girls” to battle back against ISIS militants. Xate Shingali, 30, is the woman reportedly behind the new fighting battalion. She’s recruited 123 women, one as young as 17 years old, who will take the battlefield to exact revenge on the terror group. 'They rape us. We kill them,' the singer told The Daily Mail."

Ms. Shingali's troops, "The Sun Girls," from Twitter, full citation and applicable attribution below in the sources, fair use and/or public domain claimed.

I know it's not very "Christian" of me, but I wish these ladies wild success in their chosen endeavor.  (And to ISIS- boys, best know these ladies have not signed onto any of the Geneva Conventions.)

So back to the newest Army Rangers.  I want to return to Sec. Carter's comments, in particular this one:  " lead..."  

In the final analysis, this is not about a piece of cloth, a proclamation of the crashing of the "Kevlar ceiling," the degeneration of transitional gender roles, a victory for feminism or anything else.  It is, instead, about having two new young officers who have additional leadership experience to pass on to their subordinates.  It is about these two young women and more important, company grade officers, who will now be more effective leaders.  

It will empower them to, with a nod to The Ranger Creed, "...shoulder more than their share of the task."  To me, that is what being an American and wearing its uniform is all about.  

Be well my friends,



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