The Ranger Tab….Who Will Be The First Woman to Wear It?

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 “I’m no sociologist, I have no anthropological training but I’m certain of this … we live in a world where the squandering of women’s talent, the traducing of their potential, is a global disgrace”. [Opening all areas of the armed forces to women] “Wipes away the barriers to achieving potential and sends a clarion call to all who serve that talent will prevail, not gender. Armies that revel in their separateness from civil society, that value the male over the female, that use their imposed values to exclude those that don’t fit the particular traits of the dominant group, who celebrate the violence that is integral to my profession rather than seek ways to contain it … they do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute.”

~Chief of the Australian Army, General Morrison

A few weeks ago a qualified soldier with two X chromosomes, whose primary profession is not Infantry, was given access to, and graduated from, the Army’s new challenging Combat Jungle Warfare course. The soldier had this to say about her experience:

This is infantry we’re talking about here. These are guys who know they’re going to war and know they’re going to get into firefights. Me being there, of course I was not accepted at first. Every day, for the first two weeks, they’d wake up and say, ‘She didn’t leave yet?’ They tested me the whole time I was there until the last week, until they finally said, ‘Taylor, you’re not going nowhere, we’re so proud of you.’ They just want to see you prove yourself without any favoritism. They want to see you do what they do because they do this every day. Infantry doesn’t play. They respected me at the end, but I earned my respect.” ~Specialist Tinita Taylor, U.S. Army

So what exactly is the new Jungle Warfare Course? This new Army combat course is conducted in Hawaii and is designed to train our young soldiers in the lost art of jungle warfare. Our Army has been at war for over a decade in the desert, and has neglected to train in a subtropical environment; we must again become proficient at these specific skills. The Jungle Warfare Course, like Ranger School is extremely difficult, physically taxing, and mentally demanding. However, with that said, it is not a profession, Jungle Warfare School, like Ranger school is never a soldier’s primary occupation or MOS. The Jungle Warfare Course like Ranger School is just that, a school.

Like Airborne School, Air Assault School, Combat Dive School, etc., the Jungle Warfare Course and Ranger School is a course, an opportunity for a soldier to become certified in an EXTRA set of war fighting skills. These military schools are much like a police officer’s extra designation as “SWAT” qualified, or a Park Rangers extra certification of “search and rescue qualified”.

So, if a female soldier was allowed to pursue the extra certification of “jungle qualified” why do the same soldiers with two X chromosomes continued to be banned from accessing the Army’s elite Ranger School? Why is Ranger school different?

Many men in our military are supportive and frankly champions of equal access for qualified women to all combat professions and schools. However, there are those, who belong to a dwindling squad of mostly men in our Nation’s Armed Forces who vocally believe that the Special Operations, the Infantry, and Ranger School are just too difficult for women, that ultimately they are the sacred place of men…these arguments no longer hold any validity in our society and serious thinkers on the subject no longer entertain them, and neither will I.

What I will address however, are the dishonest group of hold outs who secretly place themselves among the supporters of combat integration, but in reality oppose the integration of women into combat jobs. This cowardly group in our Army endorse all the same antiquated ideas of women and their place in our society that I just mentioned, but won’t come out and publicly say it. This band knows that their beliefs no longer hold water in our society, that their civilian masters will no longer tolerate such ignorance. Let me be clear, they do not think a female soldier should have been allowed to attend the Jungle Warfare Course, and they certainly do not want women serving in the Infantry or wearing a Ranger Tab. However, because they can no longer successfully employ their base arguments they resort to deceptive delay and distraction tactics.

To delay the directive to give women equal access to all combat professions and schools they employ countless tests and studies, they hire research teams. They rattle off terms like “critical mass”, “force multiplier”, “bone mass”, “muscle composition”, cardio capacity”, “injury rate”, etc., etc., etc., etc.

To distract their bosses (the American public) they calmly list reasons like: “She is not Infantry why does she need a Ranger Tab?”, “Women in the Army don’t really want this”, “this is a political experiment”, “the 15+ women who graduated Marine Infantry training were trained to a different standard” etc., etc., etc. All of these new “reasons” are simply Red Herrings, the last desperate and veiled attempts to ban women from accessing these elite courses simply due to their sex.

They will tell their bosses, (the American people), that only soldiers who are Infantry soldiers need to attend Ranger School, and because qualified soldiers with two X chromosomes are not yet able to serve in our nation’s Infantry they should not be allowed to attend the Ranger Course. Yet, many male soldiers who are not Infantry soldiers become “Ranger” qualified every year; Chaplains, Armor soldiers, Medical Officers etc. You see, the Army believes that it is beneficial to have soldiers in many professions Ranger qualified. For example, a doctor might very well be attached to, or serving in an Infantry unit and her Ranger qualification will assist the entire unit as well as placing her on equal footing with her fellow Infantry soldiers who wear the Ranger Tab.

Because all combat jobs must be opened by 2015, women will surely begin to assume Armor and even Infantry professions. With this inevitable fact, doesn’t it make sense to allow female soldiers access to all the military’s special schools and extra certifications in order to develop a better trained fighter? Based on the direct order to integrate all jobs and schools by 2015 it seems to me, to be illegal and a complete disregard for a direct order, to continue to ban women from Ranger School. After all, Ranger School, like all other combat schools, is no longer reserved for men, it is reserved for warriors.

It is the hope of many female soldiers; to include the one who just graduated from the Jungle Warfare Course that, by next year, the first qualified soldier with two X chromosomes will have earned the right and the honor to wear the coveted Ranger Tab. In fact the young female soldier who currently wears the Jungle Warfare Tab had this to say about Ranger School:

 “My goal is to be the first female soldier to complete Ranger School.”

Many women, just like many men in the military do want this. It is not a political experiment, it is equality based on qualification; I can think of no other profession in our free nation that bans someone simply due to their chromosome make-up.

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One thought on “The Ranger Tab….Who Will Be The First Woman to Wear It?

  1. There are a lot of things within this piece that are problematic from a logical stance, but I’ll try to address only the major ones:

    First- quoting a high-ranking general means nothing, since most today in Australia and America would be fired if they said categorically that women shouldn’t be in combat arms. Surely most of them wouldn’t have made it to where they are today if they weren’t politically correct to begin with. Expect these same guys to have fought this twenty years ago.

    The Jungle Warfare course is not “infantry” and not like Ranger School. It is only 21 days and it is run by a Division (for Divisional requirements). But, your mentioning of Airborne and Air Assault is apt, since both of those courses were massively watered down when women started going. That is the political reality we have to face: either the powers that be want equality of outcome and/or they are convinced that diversity- no matter how one gets there- has a quality all its own that supersedes other qualities. That diversity is a paramount quality is a very difficult position to prove one way or another especially with respect to a complex subject like war, but suffice it to say that it is very possible that equality of outcome in this regard will leave our armed forces less effective. It is also a fact that equality of opportunity (and thus definitely of outcome) will definitely leave them less flexible (due to the reality of any unit having women having to deploy with them no matter the environment or mission they face).

    The reason Ranger School is different is because it is considered part of the combat arms family- and combat arms, contrary to what you suggest (that it is illegal), is still off-limits to females pending the deadlines given by the SECDEF.

    When you turn hyperbolic and emotional with comments about “dwindling populations”, “dishonest”, and “ignorance”, your argument really starts to become illogical. You seem to be saying that unless someone agrees with you they are not serious thinkers or they are simply behind-the-times sexists. I really think you hurt your argument- and thus your political position- when you engage in that kind of labeling.

    The reality is that there are many within the military and within our population- I’d guess at least half there- that have serious concerns with making our combat arms co-ed. And these arguments within the combat arms have little to do with simple physical characteristics or sex bias. If you simply stuck to the equality argument then at least you’d have some validity in your logic. But downplaying anyone who thinks differently than you do surely isn’t the mark of a scholar. Or is that what is passing as rigorous positions within academia today?

    No, this isn’t a political experiment- but it IS a political position. No vote has instigated this, this was an executive branch decision. Now, if equality is deemed as the priority- then fine, go ahead and do it. But, if combat effectiveness is the priority- then it might make sense to ensure this doesn’t affect that. Of course those who want this change immediately are convinced that there will be no effect – or effectiveness will actually improve. But that is to be expected- they are advocates or ideologues. This issue goes beyond simple individualistic equality concerns- because we don’t fight as individuals, Army advertising notwithstanding. We fight as teams. And teams are only as effective as they are cohesive. There’s a reason the majority of homosexuals in combat arms have stayed in the closet (and those advocating more change should probably find out why that is the case)- combat arms is a different culture than even the military- much less the rest of society. That may be bad- but it is current reality (surely it isn’t “fair”- but national security is rarely something that considers fairness…), and we should probably understand the social implications of co-ed combat arms within this country (as opposed to others) and be sure we are okay with them before we rush into such a change. Military leaders owe it to the American people to do so. Advocates, like yourself, have no such responsibility. But, it would be refreshing to hear more logical arguments than the usual hyperbole found in most of these posts and op-eds.

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