US Army Finally Admits Women To Elite Ranger School, Then Fails All 20 (VIDEO)

The good news is, the U.S. Army finally admitted the first batch of women ever into their elite Ranger School earlier this year. The bad news is that last week, the U.S. Army announced that all 20 of them had failed.

The Christian Science Monitor reports 20 women were admitted for the 62-day training course. All 20 failed, but eight of them were invited to try again. Now, only three of these women will get to make another go of it. Let’s hope that old “third time’s the charm” adage holds true.

Ranger School, which grooms the Army’s most elite special operations fighting force, opened its doors to women for the first time this year. Eight of the 20 women who originally entered the school’s first co-ed class were allowed to recycle through the program after they fell out in their first go-round. The Friday announcement confirmed this happened again. Three of the eight were invited to take the course over again in late June.

Some argue that this was bound to happen, because women just aren’t physically equal to the challenge.

The Rangers are the best of the best, and being a Ranger means passing a physical test that pushes body and mind to the breaking point. If women can’t do it, the argument goes, then they shouldn’t be Rangers.

But many others think the standards are irrelevant and need to change. With an increasing focus on counter-insurgence tactics over conventional warfare, the U.S. Army’s elite ground forces will require many other qualities besides brute strength.

But there is another opinion quietly being voiced as well: that Ranger School is more akin to a rite of passage – an opportunity for men to “thump their chest,” as one Ranger puts it – than a realistic preparation for leading in war. That women can actually make Ranger units more effective. And that the standards that keep them out are outdated.

And in case you think women are unfairly demanding lower standards, Ranger and West Point grad Col. Jason Amerine says men are the ones leading the discussion.

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“Of course women don’t want to change the standard – they don’t want to be accused of lowering it. And men don’t want to change it either, because it lets us thump our chest.”

Retired Lt. Gen. David Barno — a former top commander for U.S. forces in Afghanistan who also did three tours as an Army Ranger explains:

“I think it’ll be contentious, but I think it’s equitable and sensible to ask the question about what are the [Ranger School] standards that are only related to the fact that only men have ever done it.”

Col. Jason Dempsey, an Army Ranger who graduated from West Point adds that the U.S. Army needs to reassess “what war-fighting is, and what’s really important. having 100,000 guys who are essentially pack mules.”

Even the [email protected] Navy Seals see a need for gender-neutral standards.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told the Navy Times this week that once women start attending SEAL training, it would make sense to examine the standards. “First, we’re going to make sure there are standards. Second, that they are gender-neutral, and third, that they have something to do with the job.”

Furthermore, Cliff Judy from  USA Today/Newsy reports the U.S. military has until 2016 to place women in ground combat units. Though there is that sneaky little loophole, “unless they can show good reason not to.” Rangers are renowned as  the army’s “best of the best,” and 90 percent of the army’s senior infantry officers are Rangers. This effectively means that women soldiers are barred from becoming senior infantry officers. Only around 50 percent of men make it through the program, which may seem like daunting odds but are far less daunting than zero percent of women making it through the training.

Women have already served alongside Army Rangers.

The biggest argument for creating gender-neutral standards for the elite branches of the military is that women have already served alongside the U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan. Why? Because, in Afghanistan, women aren’t supposed to talk to men who aren’t family members. When you’re raiding remote compounds in Kandahar and need cooperation from the women, you need to send in another woman to talk to them.

Maj. John Vickery told USA Today that since women accompanied U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan, “to deny them the same opportunity is probably not right.” ABC reports women have served on Cultural Support Teams since 2010, risking their lives and hiking through rugged terrain, so they could go in, offer their protection to the women and children, and get vital information from them.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command created a program in 2010 called the Cultural Support Teams. They were special units of female Army soldiers that were meant to build relationships with Afghan citizens as Green Berets and Army Rangers searched compounds in the rugged desert of Kandahar.

You can read a first-hand account in the best-selling book, “Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield.”

Here’s the video with the report on 20 women failing the U.S. Army’s Ranger School from USA Today/Newsy.

Featured image with women in the U.S. Army’s elite Ranger School: Video screen grab via USA Today/Newsy.