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…