Ranger Qualified vs. Army Ranger

Ranger_Tab.svg

Ranger Tab. Most people who have earned this are not Army Rangers.

People are so excited about the possibility of a female soldier attending the US Army Ranger School that they are completely screwing up the facts. Let me straighten this out, once and for all.

Here’s the latest in screwed up journalism on this newsworthy event, courtesy of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

A Fort Carson lieutenant could become the first female Ranger, the Army said on its website.

The woman, whose name wasn’t released, is a Fort Carson helicopter pilot and the only woman of 17 who attempted to complete the Ranger Training Assessment Course last month. Completing the course is a requirement for Ranger training.

The elite Rangers, who specialize in difficult airborne missions and fall under Special Operations Command, have no women in the ranks. The Army, though, is working this year to open all units to women who can meet physical requirements.

The first step for Rangers has been allowing women to take the assessment course.

Women who complete the course, including the Fort Carson lieutenant, can go on to full Ranger training beginning in April, the Army said.

No, no, no, Gazette. You’re making people dumber.

So much is screwed up with this article. Where to begin…

I’ll attempt a response. Though, much of my personal knowledge is almost 2 decades old.

The United States Army Ranger School takes place at Fort Benning, Georgia (Benning Phase); Dahlonega, Georgia (Mountain Phase); and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (Swamp Phase). It lasts approximately 3 months. If a person successfully completes the school, they are awarded a Ranger Tab (pictured above).

Now, here are a few notes to clarify all the stuff screwed up by the article above.

1. Having earned a Ranger Tab does not make someone a Ranger. It merely makes them “Ranger Qualified.” They are entitled to wear a Ranger Tab (top picture). Nothing more. By graduating from Ranger School, the young lady from Ft. Carson could become the first female to complete Ranger School and earn a Ranger Tab. It does not make her a Ranger.

75RangerRegtSSI

Ranger Scroll. This is worn by all Army Rangers. (This denotes a person assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment Headquarters. Each Ranger Battalion has their own distinctive scroll, but they look substantially similar to this one.)

2. In order to actually be an Army Ranger, you must be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment. Anyone not assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment is not an Army Ranger. Understand?

3. It is possible to be an Army Ranger even if the soldier has not earned a Ranger Tab. In fact, most junior enlisted Army Rangers have not yet had an opportunity to attend Ranger School. However, those who want to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment as Noncommissioned Officers and Officers must generally be Ranger Qualified. Even if a soldier has a Ranger Tab, they must endure an additional selection program to be accepted and assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment.

4. For example, I graduated with Ranger Class 3-97 (Yes, this month will be 18 years since graduating). Therefore, I earned a Ranger Tab and can call myself “Ranger Qualified.” However, as I was never assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, I was never an Army Ranger. I cannot call myself an Army Ranger. Ever. (Well, unless by some freakish turn of events I find my 40+ year old butt assigned to the 75th.)

5. The Ranger Training Assessment Course at Ft. Carson mentioned in the excerpt above is typically called “Pre-Ranger.” This is a course owned by Fort Carson in order to assess possible candidates for Ranger School. Ranger School has a very high failure rate. So, before spending money and sending soldiers to Fort Benning for the course, most Army posts will hold a pre-Ranger course to identify candidates who are likely to succeed at Ranger School. That’s it. However, it is not a strict requirement for Ranger School attendance, as I never attended a pre-Ranger course. It is merely a requirement for Ft. Carson to agree to pay to send a soldier to Ranger School. This is a good first step for individuals wanting to successfully complete Ranger School. However, completion of a pre-Ranger course means nothing as a stand-alone accomplishment.

6. As a pilot, the young lady from Ft. Carson will likely never find herself in Ranger Regiment. They may have a pilot job in regimental headquarters for an aviation staff liaison, but her best assignment would be in Task Force 160, which provides helicopter support to the Rangers and other Special Forces units. Those assigned to Task Force 160 are not Army Rangers, but they are a critical part of Special Operations. If she loves being a pilot, I suspect this would be the best place to go.

So, let’s rewrite the article correctly.

A Fort Carson lieutenant could become the first female to graduate of the US Army Ranger School.

The woman, whose name wasn’t released, is a Fort Carson helicopter pilot and the only woman of 17 who attempted to complete Ft. Carson’s Ranger Training Assessment Course last month. Completing the course means that Ft. Carson will send her to Fort Benning, GA to attend Ranger School

Combat branches of the Army, including Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces, have no women in their ranks. The Army, though, is working this year to open all units to women who can meet physical requirements.

One of the first steps toward full integration of women in the Army is to allow some to attend Ranger School.

Women who meet current Ranger School physical fitness and tactical knowledge prerequisites, including the Fort Carson lieutenant, can attend Ranger School in April, the Army said.

Having completed this valuable civic duty, I have been asked by more than a couple of people about what I think of a woman attending Ranger School.

Here are my personal thoughts, which, in reality, are not worth the electricity powering your monitor as you read this.

1. The school should not lower its standards. As far as I can tell, they are not lowering any standards. The physical fitness baseline for Ranger School is challenging. However, just as with men, it requires excellent conditioning ( both strength and endurance). This is for good reason. Ranger School is a valuable learning experience for any Army leader. It forces individuals to make tactical decisions while deprived of food, sleep, and comfort. In short, it forces a person to maintain good leadership qualities while under mental, emotional, and physical duress. She will graduate more aware of her limits and abilities.

2. She (they) should prepare for possible permanent physical consequences, and good hygiene is a challenge. Many Ranger School students suffer from skin (often cellulitis) and gastrointestinal infections (even with them hitting each of us with a biocillin shot at the start of each phase). To this day, I cannot feel one of my big toes. The last time I had feeling in it was at the beginning of Mountain Phase. I began the course at 175 lbs. At graduation, I weighed just over 120 lbs. During one 10 day stretch, I slept approximately 5 hours, total. I hallucinated all kinds of crazy stuff. My visions centered around food. Most of us craved chocolate chip cookie dough. Not cooked. Just a big log of the Pillsbury stuff. Eaten unbaked. The whole thing.

3. As long as I don’t have to do it again, they can send whomever they choose.

4. Remember, it is about more than just a black and gold tab. Much more. Still, it is coveted, even by people like this jerk.

5. After graduating Class 3-97, Ranger School has been easy and soft (inside joke).

6. I hope the ladies kick ass at Ranger School. To each of them, good luck.

Urinating Marines, Meet Unwavering Agendas

Within the last two days, a video went viral of Marines urinating on the bodies of alleged Taliban fighters. Presumably, the Marines had recently completed a firefight, and the bodies are those of the enemy killed-in-action.

Reproduced verbatim from Wikipedia.

Many people are calling for blood. They want the President and Secretary Panetta to summarily sentence the Marines to life in prison for war crimes or try them at the Hague.

None of that will happen.

I spoke with several veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan. They think the Marines are immature, misguided, and possibly a little war-punch-drunk. It happens. If you read the book With The Old Breed by EB Sledge, he describes mistreatment of enemy KIA on islands stormed by Marines in the Pacific. Numerous accounts of similar acts arose out of the Vietnam War. We can’t expect someone to kill another human being and then be 100% mentally straight after the events.

Today’s generation is no different from previous ones. Knowing that you killed a fellow human being has a profound effect on a person’s mind–whether done with an M-1 Carbine, an M-4, or a tank. Knowing that the person you killed was trying to kill you and your buddies only compounds matters.

Sherman was never more correct than when he asserted “War is Hell.” Sending people anywhere to kill other people is a nasty affair. Technicolor and Kodachrome haven’t changed war, they just brought evidence in support of it’s realities to the general public.

Just look at D-Day Invasion portrayals. They started with sanitized, John-Wayne-esque hero worship where only secondary characters died, and even that was done without showing blood, dismemberment, or gore.

Now, Steven Spielberg showed us what it was really like, complete with splattering red goo and guys running around with their own severed limbs.

D-Day didn’t change through the years, but our ability to portray it has.

But, back to the Marines…

Essentially, their actions are to the military as whipping-out a Sharpie in the endzone is to professional football. (H/T to JMo). Immaturity, lack of perspective, and lack of involved leadership results in idiotic behavior.

The Marines disregarded much of their training. Having completed pre-deployment training myself along with my prior 5 years as a Lieutenant and Captain in the Army Infantry, I can tell you that much of military training focuses on obeying the Geneva Conventions, following the rules, taking-care of your buddies, and acting in a way that supports mission accomplishment. That includes displaying respect for enemy KIA/WIA and civilians-on-the battlefield as a means of winning hearts and minds. We even practiced these principles at Ranger School.

The act, while public, will be addressed by military authorities using the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). I promise you that the justice process in this matter will be as boring as possible, and the treatment of their cases will be given scrutiny by at least 4 levels of command (just like every other court-martial (and assuming their cases are actually brought to court-martial)). Leaders will consider the acts themselves, the stress experienced by those (presumably) young Marines, and the impact those actions have/had on the overall mission. It’s all very formulaic, and boring. I’d give you more detail, but then you’d stop reading this article.

How will they be punished? For starters, consider the two elements of Article 134, UCMJ (General Article):

That the accused did or failed to do certain acts; and

That, under the circumstances, the accused’s conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

There you go. Nothing new. Nothing to see here. The punishment can range from nothing to whatever the max is calculated to be. Ho hum.

Some don’t want it to be so sanitary and boring.

Some people want to bemoan their treatment as an indictment upon society and how each will be made into a scapegoat for our government’s (and society’s) shortcomings. None was more obvious than Norm Pattis’ blog. He spins the situation to support his own agenda and perhaps as a means of selling copies of his book.

It is distasteful to me.

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