OPINION: Ranger School is Dead
Ranger School as we knew it is dead, and the price paid is still to be determined.
That’s right. Ranger School is dead and it’s not the fault of the female cadets and soldiers, either. The death of Ranger School began a long time ago. It happened when Ranger School was labeled a “leadership” school by Army officers who wanted it to be used to “punch” an officer’s ticket. For me, it’s easy: anyone who doesn’t require the skills taught at Ranger School should not attend whether male, female, officer, enlisted or cadet.
Let’s look at what Ranger School is designed for and what tasks are taught and performed by Ranger School students. I copied this straight from the Ranger Department’s website, specifically where they discuss the history of Ranger School.
“The Ranger Course was conceived during the Korean War and was known as the Ranger Training Command. On 10 October 1951, the Ranger Training Command was inactivated and became the Ranger Department, a branch of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Its purpose was, and still is, to develop combat skills of selected officers and enlisted men by requiring them to perform effectively as small unit leaders in a realistic tactical environment, under mental and physical stress approaching that found in actual combat. Emphasis is placed on the development of individual combat skills and abilities through the application of the principles of leadership while further developing military skills in the planning and conduct of dismounted infantry, airborne, air mobile, and amphibious independent squad and platoon-size operations. Graduates return to their units to pass on these skills.
From 1954 to the early 1970’s, the Army’s goal, though seldom achieved, was to have one Ranger qualified NCO per infantry platoon and one officer per company. In an effort to better achieve this goal, in 1954 the Army required all combat arms officers to become Ranger/ Airborne qualified.”
The Army failed itself, its soldiers (past and present) and the citizens of the United States. Whenever you make a school necessary to punch an officer’s ticket for promotion, you in fact degrade readiness and that is what has occurred over time. Some say that Ranger School is a “leadership” school. Well if that is so then why isn’t the Sergeant Majors Academy in charge of the curriculum as with all NCO development schools? Because it’s not just a leadership school, it’s an Infantry School. Why? Because it teaches small unit Infantry tactics to combat arms soldiers to be better light infantry soldiers. Ranger School prepares soldiers to conduct combat and reconnaissance dismounted patrols in different environments. Does every officer and enlisted soldier need this capability? No! The soldiers who need this skill are those who actually will be performing these tasks as part of their job description and the operations that they will be required to perform.
The sad thing is that the Army gave way to politics, which means that if the command does not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to politics and politicians, then how can they be trusted with the Army’s readiness? The Army can’t tell the country, least of all actual Rangers, that these woman weren’t given special treatment. The fact is they were, and every Ranger knows they were because the community is small and we enlisted men will talk if something stinks.
So what will be interesting in the coming weeks and months is if the Army decides to lift the exclusion for women to serve in Combat Arms MOS’s, because that’s what this whole social experiment has been about.
If the military opens up these combat arms jobs to women, will the United States Military be stronger or weaker for that decision? The reason I ask this is because our allies and our enemies have a vote and our National Defense Strategy can suffer if we don’t take into consideration the cultures that we interact with. The world is mostly a male dominated society. I know some of you may not like hearing that, but it’s true. If we don’t look at the bigger picture here we may be doing more damage to ourselves globally for the sake of equality within our own country.
Just because in our culture woman have the opportunity to excel and do anything or become anything doesn’t mean that allowing women in combat arms is necessarily the right thing to do from a strategic point of view. Especially when you take into consideration who they may have to interact with, and where we may have to fight.
John Hurth is a former U.S. Army Special Operations soldier. He’s also the founder of Tyr Group, a tactical training company in Louisiana.