Allegations Ranger Instructors Not Grading Women Fairly

Posted on: June 29th, 2015 by Will Rodriguez 17 Comments
Ranger School combatives training 20 April 20 2015 USA photo by PFC Antonio Lewis

Stars and Stripes reported last week on the three remaining women attempting Ranger school again after failing the first phase twice.  (Not unheard of for male students but it is uncommon.)  My biggest take away from the article was a fundamental misunderstanding about patrols, how we train our leaders and Ranger school.

The article put forward that non-combat arms have trouble with patrols in Ranger School because they don’t do a lot of them.  True, but they ignored that many non-combat arms students actually overcome this obstacle.  What’s the proportion?  Did 100% of the non combat arms male candidates fail patrols also?  HIGHLY doubtful.  Further, the article (and all others) totally fails to address all eight women that made it past the first week of Ranger School were officers and not junior ones who one would expect to not have patrol training.  Again, ignored by all media is the substantial preparation female candidates went through before Ranger School.

Let’s ask some questions?

Do they not teach patrols and Operations Orders (OPORDS) in other branches of the Army?  Wait, hasn’t the media and those promoting women serve in every specialty made the case that in the last decade of war that there is no difference in performance by women in combat?

How do junior officers coming out of the Infantry and Armor Basic Officer’s courses do so well in Ranger school as second lieutenants with (except for priori service) basically no patrol experience?  Could there be another factor at work here?

Then there’s the totally speculative and inflammatory allegation that maybe RI’s aren’t grading female Ranger candidates fairly.  That’s pretty hard to believe even possible considering the 31 female officer observer-advisors overseeing the course and its execution.  It also ignores according to some sources the singular attention being paid by the Maneuver Center’s two star commanding general who is being briefed daily on female Ranger candidates performance and immediately upon any significant events.

What about a discussion of the number one reason even male Ranger students fail patrols?  Exhaustion.  It’s exceptionally hard to lead when you are sleep deprived, physically drained, hungry and stressed.  You forget stuff.  You don’t walk around and check as much as when you are fresh and rested. The leader’s ability to perform physically and then have enough reserves to fulfill his role is no small matter and does speak to the potential difference in physical stamina between men and women.   Ot is also much harder to lead exhausted troops.  Stars and Stripes also reported without analysis that male Ranger candidates with women in their squads also suffered higher failure rates.

But let’s not even touch the humongous physical performance differential as we analyze why anyone fails Ranger school…


Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • Luddite4Change

    Stars and Stripes also reported without analysis that male Ranger candidates with women in their squads also suffered higher failure rates.


      Though I train folks not to jump to conclusions without all of the facts being laid on the table, I have to think that the above sentence is a big indicator of what happened on the patrols in question.  Most likely, the poor results across the board are due to the patrol(s) not getting to the appropriate objective or rally points within the time constraints.  As I remember from Ranger school and other training in the RTB, that is a critical task on the grading sheet.  If the patrol misses that mark, its No Go’s all around for the PL and the APL.  Given that patrols can only move as fast as the slowest person, it doesn’t take too much of a leap of logic that there may be some causality here.  

    The lack of “patrolling experience” is a red herring IMHO.  All the female candidates are officers as you point out, and executing security patrols is (or was) a pre-commissioning task.  Plenty of folks overcome their lack of patrolling experience in Darby, and in some ways its easier without the experience as you don’t have bad habits to break (I saw more than a few Regiment boys fall into this trap).  Just execute the way you are trained in accordance with the standard.

  • Luddite4Change 
    I’m also hearing (but can’t confirm) that the cadre and students are “big brothering” female candidates.  They are giving them more support than male candidates get.  If true that is just as bad in regards to leader effectiveness.  If a superior shows favoritism to a subordinate it has a negative effect on the unit in general.
    This remains part of the male-female dynamic.  
    During my time at the Academy I was amazed at how holding women to the same standard was seen as too being too tough and the spotlight was placed on the superior vs. the standard that wasn’t being met.  Its impact was to not look too close at female cadet’s performance for concern over one’s own career.
    Again, a very concrete and common byproduct of dictated gender integration that never seems to get discussed in polite company.

  • Luddite4Change

    majrod Luddite4Change  Just as bad, but understandable.  I can certainly empathize that male cadre and students alike do not wanting the be the reason that a female fails an event, especially as there is such a small density that there will only be one instructional touch (no pun intended) from a cadre member in any particular cycle. 

    Everyone gets “big brotherly love” at Ranger school, its just not always the most positively remembered experience.  Mostly its more akin to your big brother “helping” you learn to swim by holding you under the water.

  • toril

    majrod Luddite4Change The thing is as a woman if I am going for this kind of job I want to be held to the same standard.  I want to know when the time comes I am the equal of my male peers and if I am not then I know I shouldn’t be there.  Granted I know not everyone is going to feel this way but I really think if a woman doesn’t think that way she has no right being in this kind of selection to begin with.  I do however know that the chances of stopping what majrod described is not likely, especially when so many eyes are on these courses to see if the women make it.

  • Here’s some interesting background those following the issue may be interested in.  Former RI made some really good comments on a story.

    Former RI comments reference recycling and unit role in recycling…

    “Yes, but remember for these three it’s really their 3rd. They
    repeated the Darby and failed. Now restarting the the entire first
    phase. Not common. Usually reserved for soldiers injured. They could
    fail FL phase and repeat that as well. They could be in the course for a
    year. The question is who is paying the bill? Most units who send
    combat arm soldiers (mostly Infantry) pay the bill and pull the plug –
    returning soldiers back to duty (if they fail) because of funding or
    short staffed issues. Again who is paying the bill and what duty
    position slot is vacant during their absence. Are we desperate to get a
    female a certificate to prove a point. What is that… I don’t know.
    Everyone should know that- yes there are some women in the US that can
    pass the course. That’s not an Issue! I ask… What is the purpose for
    sending soldiers to Ranger School? Really, there is Only one that I
    know of and that is to produce Ranger qualified soldiers to be Assigned
    to the Ranger Regiment. Any other reason is secondary and crap!
    Remember the Creed…”Recognized that I volunteer as a Ranger, Fully
    knowing the hazards of my chosen profession…” Once you are qualified
    the Army can assign you to the Regiment at anytime! I believe if you
    pass Ranger school you should only be allowed to wear the TAB if you are
    assigned to an Infantry Brigade. Remember not all MOS have the
    opportunity to attend Ranger school. Those volunteering to go to the
    Ranger Regiment, and Infantry officers have a slot, sister services such
    as Seals and lastly some combat arms MOS if slots are available and If
    the Sending Unit pays! for the schooling. Women have nothing to prove
    here…if they want to be Infantry soldiers assigned to the Regiment or
    Infantry Officers…Then go for it! Otherwise, Don’t waste the Army’s
    money or slots! Ranger School training is phase one, thereafter it is
    all about mission and caring for soldiers and equipment. Ex RI Infantry
    Officer and Army Comptroller.”
    Same RI commenting about how one gets assigned to a graded position in a patrol and the pitfalls to not paying attention while trying to slack off because someone else is being graded 

    “EVERYONE READ THIS: Yes, THEY CAN…it depends on student’s grade and
    the end of cycle council. If they passed patrols but peered by their
    fellow ranger students they could move on to the next phase. If they
    failed a patrol…. if there is enough time RIs will rotate that student
    into leadership position again to get a second chance. If they failed
    twice they will have the opportunity to recycle if they get positive
    peering and positive spot reports. This is most likely what happened to
    the 3 remaining females. The problem that most don’t realize is when you
    are a student the chain of command is subject to change at anytime. So
    you may not be in a leadership roll during the planning of an operation.
    But an RI can and will change the leadership just as you cross the LD
    Or land on the LZ. This is want everyone doesn’t understand. So if you
    were a sleep or not paying attention or participating during the
    planning of the operation you could be put in charge at anytime and have
    to carryout that planned mission as if it was your own. (Sleep
    Deprivation) This is what fails many and also brings out those
    individuals who are known as Spotlight Rangers! And this is why some
    Ranger Students get peered and are subject to fail the course. Not RI
    The story is worth reading.  It provided some detail on the grading that led to the three female candidates being recycled.   

    “The decisions regarding who stays and who goes are made during a
    leadership board that convenes at the end of each phase of course.
    The counseling session looks at how these candidates were evaluated
    by their peers as well as by Ranger instructors, who use what are known
    as “spot reports” to identify both positive and negative performance. A
    spot report could be given for building an excellent terrain model or
    for falling asleep during non-rest period, according to school
    Positive spot reports cancel out negative spot reports, and a
    student can’t accumulate three negative spot reports during one phase.”
    The article also shares that the three candidates are officers, one major and two 1LT’s.  From a very reliable personal source one of the 1LT’s is an Apache helicopter pilot.

  • YankeePapa

    …Ok, BOHICA.  “Women are fully qualified… so if they are not graduating it is the fault of the instructors… We need to clean out those who are not “progressive…”  This train will run on time…”

  • oldSquid(Mafia)

    YankeePapa Not being Army…. can Army panties get ‘in a wad’?

  • YankeePapa

    oldSquid(Mafia) YankeePapa ,
    …Sorry, I’m a Marine.  I’ll let Majrod field this one…  :#)

  • oldSquid(Mafia) YankeePapa 
    Well, most of the time when in the field we didn’t wear underwear.  Induced chafing, another layer to stay wet after a stream crossing etc.
    We didn’t get many showers either.  I went about two months without one in Iraq but on a field exercise two weeks (the duration of an exercise) was pretty much the norm.  I would think twisted panties would induce a heat rash or something.

    Now I’m sure guys in the rear or other branches (cough) had luxuries like underwear, running water and hot chow.  They probably had time to straighten “panty twists”.  My experience was, err, “more focused”.

  • Txazz

    toril majrod Luddite4Change Yeah, Tori, and there are people who think they can sing, too.  But, that’s only their opinion.  ha ha ha  How do we know what these female candidates think.  Personally, I agree with you.

  • Txazz

    Sham Equality:  Women Given Extra Chances at Ranger TrainingJust like marriage equality, giving women equality in the military means treating them unequally.

  • Riceball

    majrod I always thought that the purpose of Ranger School was to get the neat little tab and ticket punching. Or am I confusing it with the Ranger School that doesn’t lead to serving in the Rangers, I forget what that one is called but I do know that there are two.

  • Riceball

    Txazz toril majrod Luddite4Change If these women are serious about becoming Rangers and want to be taken seriously then they should not just expect to be treated the same as the male candidates but demand that it be so. If there’s any suspicion that a women graduated Ranger School only because she was helped along by lower standards or favoritism then no one is going to respect her once she joins a Ranger battalion and she’s going to hating life until she either transfers out or proves that she really earned her tab and tan beret.

  • Riceball majrod 
    I would disagree characterizing Ranger School as simply a ticket punch.  It would equate to the special training Marines receive to serve in Force Recon and then subequently serve in other capacities outside Recon.  Does the training, wings etc. give them a free pass?  I think not.

    Ranger School is not required for a PVT/PFC/SPC to enter the regiment but no Ranger Regiment soldier is allowed to stay or even be assigned to the regiment above the rank of specialist without a Ranger tab.  Enlisted men without a tab below the grade of sergeant are given about a year to procure their Ranger tab or they are reassigned from the Regiment.

    Ranger School aside (remember, anyone in the grade of SGT or above must have a Ranger tab to get assigned), the Ranger Regiment runs a selection program which is eight weeks long for junior soldiers and leaders.  Senior NCO’s and officers attend an abbreviated course after a very intense selection process which requires numerous letters of recommendation, an interview by a board, a review of their records and for officers, an exceptional evaluation and successful command of a similar sized unit.  Every officer in the Regiment commands a regular platoon, company or battalion before commanding the same sized unit in the Regiment.  NCO’s are typically (except for support MOS’s) exclusively groomed from the Regiment.  It’s exceptionally rare (unheard of in the 11 series slots) to serve as a Team Leader, Squad Leader etc. without having served as a private in the Regiment and worked your way up through all those positions.

    Ranger School IS a leadership school.  Leaders learn much about what they can take, what they can ask of others and what the limits of human endurance looks like.  A small minority of attendees go and try and ride the tab for the rest of their career.  That’s more successful in the support branches that have very few Ranger tab qualified individuals (it’s pretty rare actually).  That attitude doesn’t fly in the combat arms side especially since tabs are so prevalent.

  • YankeePapa

    majrod Riceball ,
    …Well said.  Sadly, one more far Left administration and all that will be replaced with a PC train wreck.  

  • Txazz

    Recon6 just pulled this out: July 17, 2015Army Ranger School’s assessment of women has moved to the mountains, but the scrutiny remains

  • Luddite4Change

    Txazz  Thanks for the link. 

    I’m not sure where these folks learned how to do a success probability?  Where I come from a 70% chance of passing Mountains, and a 77% probability of passing Florida comes out to a 53% chance of passing the remainder of the course without recycling. 

    I don’t know what they are smoking, I’ve seen loads of folks become no go’s in Mountains and Florida.  Its were Rangers really are made.