Would-be Rangerettes Factual Update

Ranger Training Brigade scrollWe’ll try to at-ease our cisgendered heteronormative patriarchal opinionating for this post and just address the facts as they exist so far.

The Ranger pipeline for men includes preparation at their own troop unit (or training station in the case of men who are in initial entry training), a briefing by a Ranger-qualified officer or NCO, a PT test to Ranger standards, and a volunteer statement. Contrary to common belief, not all Ranger students are parachute qualified, but the vast majority of them are, and the qualified soldiers will conduct up to three combat equipment jumps during the course. (The schedule is tight so the jumps can weather out). Parachute-qualified Rangers are allowed five hours sleep the night before a jump for safety reasons. That’s the longest stretch of sleep anyone gets in the two-month course, which is recognizably the same as it was at the time of its establishment circa 1950.

Having women in the pipeline has required some changes to the physical plant and schedule, but they are minor, for example, providing women’s toilet facilities and increasing the time for personal hygiene — slightly.

The military officers and NCOs assigned to this include both people who are known yes-men, and people who are not and who are sworn to uphold Ranger standards. (One example of the latter: CSM Jeff Mellinger).

The Ranger Pipeline for women takes advantage of the pre-Ranger course, the Army National Guard’s Ranger Training Assessment Course (RTAC), which was established to give reserve component soldiers some conditioning and psychological preparation for the Ranger School environment (it was established because RC soldiers were failing at a higher rate). Several RTAC iterations were opened to women with the hopes of getting 100 female volunteers ready for the first co-ed Ranger course this month. That number was not achieved for several reasons, including but not limited to:

  1. Fewer women volunteered for Ranger training that Army leaders anticipated;
  2. Fewer women passed RTAC than anticipated.

Most men who attend RTAC pass. Of 138 women who started RTAC, 19 passed, but it’s interesting how those numbers came to pass. The first several iterations of co-ed RTAC involved 77 women volunteers, but only 12 passed (16%) despite encouragement, the Corps of Commissars, etc. Moreover, one of the five women who passed the very first RTAC iteration then voluntarily withdrew. Her reasons are unknown to us.

ranger_school_signThe command made two attempts to increase the numbers, with only one more RTAC class available before the first coed Ranger class. First, a record 61 female volunteers were crammed into the last-chance RTAC. Secondly, the VW, or quitter, was persuaded to un-quit, an opportunity that’s never been offered to a Ranger candidate before. Again, we do not know the circumstances of this decision, or why that unique accommodation was made, or even who did the persuading. That’s all a black box, despite the presence of media shadowing the female candidates. We only know that it was done.

The idea of trebling the female input to RTAC, to increase the output, certainly seems logical, but doesn’t seem to have worked. Of the 61 candidates, only seven did not fail, medically drop, or quit. This was a pass rate of only 11% of this group, with an overall pass rate of 14% for all female RTAC candidates (19/138).

Aside: a word on fail/drop/quit. On one level those mean the same thing: the candidate is out of the course. On another level, they don’t, usually. A student who voluntarily withdraws (i.e., quits) an Army course is generally discouraged from returning, if not banned outright. (SF does this in its courses with the dreaded “NTR Letter,” telling the student he’s Never To Return. Tim McVeigh is probably the most famous recipient of an NTR Letter; most if not all VWs, all honor-violation drops, and some truly hopeless failures get the NTR). A student who fails, though, usually faces no such discrimination and can opt to attend the course again in the future. For officer students, this can sometimes be done on an Army quota while doing a change of station, but units are loath to use their limited number of Ranger School slots on a soldier who’s already failed once, when there are always more good troops wanting a slot than there are slots to hand out.  Medical drops can always come back if they can recover from their illness or injury, and can get a slot and time in their schedule. There are other rare administrative drops (for example, death in the immediate family) that are also not held against the candidate in the way that quitting or even failure is.

That left 19 plucky female Ranger candidates in the first formation of Ranger Class 06-15 that began on 20 April 2015. Most (all?) of them were officers. By the end of that first day, three women had failed. The three failed the PT test, as did a large number of men, mostly men that had not had RTAC preparation.

PT Test Attrition

This failure of PT tests, which have a widely publicized standard, generally results from the fact that at Ranger School the test is graded with scrupulous adherence to the standards in Army field manuals; at troop units, a soldier (of either sex) may get away with merely bobbing his or her head and wiggling arms a little, and getting that thing counted as a push-up. At Ranger school, a cadre member will be counting these repetitions: “Zero… zero… zero…” and by the time the candidate figures out that what passed for a push-up at the fo-fo’ty-fo’th mo-po doesn’t fly at Harmony Church, he or she may be too weak to do the requisite number of real push-ups.

The students (male and female) have had to meet the following standards:

  • 49 push-ups to Army standard
  • 59 sit-ups, ditto
  • 6 pull-ups
  • 5 mile run in 40 minutes even

3 of 19 women (16%) and 78 of 381 men (20%) failed this test on the first day. (Something doesn’t add up in these numbers from the Army, as only 399 roster numbers were initially assigned to class members, and 381+19=400. But they’re the figures we got, and the ones that were on the Chief of Staff’s briefing slide — you bet he’s watching this).

Other RAP Week Attrition

The first week of Ranger School (the first four days, really) is called RAP Week (Ranger Assessment Phase). It’s a combination of check-the-box tests and gut checks that makes sure that the students here really want to be here, and are really ready to tackle the course. Hisorically, many aren’t, as the normal 15-20% attrition on PT tests shows.

This young soldier is a ROTC Candidate at Maryland, but she's showing the combat water survival swim in ACUs with rifle.

This young soldier is a ROTC Candidate at Maryland, but she’s showing the combat water survival swim in ACUs with rifle.

Other attrition generators in this phase of Ranger school include a short swim (15 feet or so) in uniform with a rubber rifle, Ranger Runs and rucksack marches. The principal ruck attrition comes from a 12-mile ruck march with a nerf ruck (35 pounds), that must be completed as an individual in under three hours. Some short-legged people need to jog to do that, but it’s certainly not a physical challenge for anyone in infantry shape, and the fall-outs are generally the injured and/or people who were not remotely prepared for the course in the first place (for comparison’s sake, junior enlisted coming from the Ranger Regiment’s operational battalions, NCOs coming from Special Forces and other SOF elements, and junior officers in the initial infantry training pipeline never fail this event). There is a written test that also causes some failures, but it is unlikely to trip up these women, who as officers are already selected for above-average intelligence.

Three of the female candidates failed the initial land-nav exercise (so did a number of men, but we do not have the number). Normally there is an end-of-week retest (without retraining) available; we do not know if the commissars are providing retraining to the female failures.

With the ruck march a significant contributor to attrition, five more females failed other RAP Week events, leaving 8 to continue in the school. They must complete all events, not get injured, and take at least four graded patrol leadership positions, and pass half of the ones that they take. (Squared-away students may graduate with four patrols, but ones that struggle to lead will get more and more leadership positions up until the class ends in hopes of dragging them above 50%, or at least teaching them something. Word is that any female candidate that gets above 50% will be exempted from further graded positions, but this is not very different from what happens with the men).

Overall pass rate for men in the pipeline is 40-50%. Our pass rate for the ladies so far can be no higher than 8/138 or 6%, about 1/7 of the overall male pass rate, despite command emphasis on getting them through.

Of this class’s women, 11 of 19 have already failed, dropped or VWd, or 58%, and 8 of 19, or 42%, continued in training after four days. There are 59 days left in the course.

22 thoughts on “Would-be Rangerettes Factual Update

  1. RobRoySimmons

    Why don’t they just submit to reality and admit that men and women are not the same

    Of course I’m not an expert but it seems with some modification in a separate school mainly dealing with the physical portion of this course women could actually benefit beyond the insane politics. The left does hate it some wimmins

    1. Y.

      Why don’t they just submit to reality and admit that men and women are not the same

      They don’t believe in no such thing as an objective reality?

      Or believe it’s socially constructed, and that the sex differences are not due to biology, but again socially constructed. Which is BS, been disproven tragically several times.

  2. Trone Abeetin

    My daughter is home on convalescence leave from army basic, stress fractured her femur, trained for a month and a half on it. They finally get her an MRI and viola, three screws. The tough part is that there are so many getting over that they don’t treat or recognize the truly injured.

    1. Hognose Post author

      She sounds like a tough gal. Does she inherit a hard constitution (& maybe a hard head?) from her dad? We wish her a speedy recovery.

      1. Trone Abeetin

        Yeah, she’s got a good drive on spirit. Good kid.
        Was telling me on the phone before her surgery ” I’m scared they’re gonna Med Board me daddie”. I laughed inside, yup, she’s my kid.
        Long on mission sense, short on self preservation.

      2. Trone Abeetin

        BTW, your site is a several time a day event for me. I thank you for your work, then and now.

    2. Bob

      I’ve always thought letting women do any of this army stuff without a substantial base of weighttraining (high relative strength not just for the strength as such but also for better bone density etc) is silly…
      Actually silly for the guys too (i.e. lots of injuries that aren’t just freak accidents in stuff like Ranger School and so on, attrition that does not need to be there and would waste slots from what I can tell and means a lesser output of qualified guys, lots of future issues), but whatever.
      The Bundeswehr does not properly(if at all) use what our weightlifting teams and sports scientists teach/research over here…

      Or do you guys have some sort of force-wide standard training program to develop bone density, tendon strength, flexibility and such now, as in, before people do their ruck marches etc? (SEALs maybe?)
      I remember hearing that there wasn’t much of this 40-50 years ago but then more and more units got weight rooms at least… Not nearly as useful as they could be without a coordinated sports science effort behind the whole thing, though. Crossfit and derivatives don’t do this well at all and I’ve never seen proper strength programming in anything crossfit-related.

      Especially for all the heavy ruck-marching it would help greatly if people were both stronger and more resilient… Women on average are of smaller stature and initially, both due to nature and nurture weaker than men… Making a woman do 6 chin-ups as a pt test does not compare to a 200lb dude doing the same… Making a weak woman who can pass pt tests which do not test leg strength do heavy ruck marches with fixed weight is also silly… A guys’ higher initial strength simply means different outcomes for both with equal (fixed weight or bodyweight) training and tasks.

      My local best female trainees tend to squat and pull around 3.5 to quadruple bodyweight… But for a 50-60Kg woman, that’s just 200-220 Kg, or 440-500 ish lbs… Those are the top of the line performers.
      Bench press numbers are about double bodyweight or so, which is in practice 100-120Kg… 220-265 lbs…
      1 Pull-Up with 130-220lbs attached, varies a lot.
      Dudes by comparison keep up the high levels of relative strength until the 85 kilo class or so, and perform well still up to the 94s or even 105’s (230lbs) class depending on how tall they are… Beyond that you have to be ultra tall or fat to get into the -125’s or shw’s and then it’s a drug game for strength, so irrelevant.

      Female strength in lower weightclasses matches the men in the slow liftswell, mostly a 10% or so decrease in benching/pull-up strength but similar squats, but as soon as you get to the -75Kg class, while they are still strong, the relative strength levels have already dropped to shit and most women in that class are either fat or have to be unusually tall. They can’t match the dudes anymore, either.

      Women also need about a flat 30-35% increase in working volume compared to men of a similar training stage (and with similar limb-lengths). More warming up too, due to neural differences.

      Interstingly, even though the light weightclasses of the women can match the men in the powerlifts in weightlifting, their fast lifts lag behind quite a bit. Might be due to the aforementioned neural differences again.

      These neural differences should translate into their reaction times being worse overall than men’s under stress (same training level for whatever activity they are doing), more time spent training overall, more trouble getting to top performance/max. rate coding when confronted with sudden stress (an attack for example) and thus again worse reaction times and whatnot… Also won’t be able to lift as much weight without warm-up as an equally strong man could in that situation.
      Makes me wonder if it’s such a good idea to use them as pilots etc, too…

      On the up-side, women can also perform more work overall/keep it up longer than men of similar stature/training stage and usually do more repetitions (i.e. get more duration) at sub-maximal weights, even 90%.

      So I guess if a 125-150lb person can do some sort of gun loading job or whatnot, you should be able to train a woman up to a point where she can likely outperform a similarly sized dude at it or at least keep it up for longer.

      Rather specific, huh?

      Requires top of the line trainers (don’t know if there are any in the U.S. for this, your weightlifting program is the butt-end of every weightlifters’ joke internationally, technique is often very poor, strength levels poor etc, but your lifters have a lot working against them. Germany is not doing too great at the top level anymore, either and there is a lot of arguing going on between the cadre trainers and the older trainers and former top athletes), facilities where the platforms/ground are perfectly level, etcetc. Probably unrealistic for a large military.

      That none of the political animals behind this and the activists bothered doing any research first and training women up properly (obv. not to the levels I mention here, that’s for professional and some recreational weightlifters, but triple rather than quadruple bodyweight squats are quite doable for women if trained properly even with other things going on, work-load -wise) tells you how little they really care about doing things right… Or about the women who might end up with their life on the line… Or the men for that matter.

      I think we’ll have cybernetically or genetically enhanced soldiers before we’ll have widespread strength training which prepares soldiers for their tasks properly in Germany… I hope you guys have it better in that regard, but based on all the stuff I keep hearing about injuries and failed (rather easy) pt tests, I can’t help but think that while the loads soldiers have to carry have increased a lot, training has not really been able to match this.
      Little time spent in the pipelines compared to what is expected of a soldier might be another issue here… Like language schools.

      1. Trone Abeetin

        She tells me that it’s the ruck marches that did her, they didn’t let the females wear their kidney straps. Apparently this kinda fracture is quite common with female trainees. Physically, she was in good shape going in, four years of JROTC. She actually improved her PT score with a fracture!

        I told her there’s no shame if she gets med boarded, she’s done more than most of her peers will ever do.
        I think a lot of the females have the right mindset but not the physical attributes for a combat arms job.

        1. Hognose Post author

          Yeah, one thing I’m not sure I get across is, not matter how dumb an idea this Rangerette thing is, how profound the respect and admiration I really have for the young women who try it. They are what TR called “the man in the arena,” to use an androcentric verbiage example.

      2. Hognose Post author

        Very thoughtful post. Strength training helps everybody, it seems.

        As far as sports medicine is concerned, I tried to do something about that in the 1980s in 10th SF Group which was then stationed in Massachusetts. I secured from the team doctor (then, and also part owner) of the Boston Red Sox professional baseball team a generous offer to assist the group’s medical officers in cases like the sports injuries he knew well. The CO met the offer with hoots of derision. I passed on to the doc that the CO had said “Thanks, but it wasn’t necessary.”

        The Army has a lot of officers who majored in football in college. Decisive leaders, but not too bright.

        Many years later, Army docs said, “Jeez, we could learn a lot from sports medicine. In a way, our guys are pro athletes.” Funny, that’s what the guy who treated pro athletes thought in 1983, and your boss blew him off.

  3. OBob

    Two fixes are already in.

    As reported by the Army , the commisars will review peer evals in order to make sure women aren’t “singled out.” Isn’t that the purpose of peer evals? My class (12-92) had a 3/75 medic who passed every patrol but was peered out after Florida. Can that happen now?

    Secondly, the students them selves will shelter them. If you’re the PL will you assign a M240 to a gal knowing it might slow the entire platoon and get YOU a no go? Repeat 59 days in a row.

    In the desert phase we had 12,000(!!!!!!!) rounds of 7.62 blanks to hump ( and no working M60s despite the efforts of the 18B in my squad, sadistic RIs, but I appreciate the twisted humor now), not to mention endless M249 drums, etc, that had to be distributed throughout the platoon. How do you allocate them when you want to ensure that you pass and yet also know every ranger SHOULD shoulder more than their share and yet you can’t give a bad peer eval if they don’t?

    They’ll also be protected from the “random fail.” IE, when we did the 5 mile run, in formation, in the dark, at 6 minute pace, if you got out of step or touched the soldier in front of you as the called random “HALTS!” in the dark, you were a fail. They told us before the run 1/3 of the class was going to “fail” it, and 1/3 did. I don’t doubt for a second every one there could have done it in 30 minutes rather than the “standard” of 40, but that’s life in the big city. I appreciated the honesty of the RIs who openly told us each day that the class has to be down to XXX size by the end of the day. Regardless of any published “standard”, don’t be at the bottom and you’ll be ok.

    For the record, I blame the female soldiers involved for none of this and respect them for trying, it’s the ARMY that should be ashamed.

  4. RAR

    Many of you are right, it is the Army’s fault and the leaders who are pushing this should be ashamed of themselves. They have no spine to address the innate tugging of their conscience.

    In response to Bob. How do you address the woman’s emotions, sexual nature and her menstrual cycle. Sure, ovaries can be removed, suppressed etc., but at the end of the day, she is still not a man!

    That being said, saying that you “respect” the women who are “trying” is a bit over the top. Yes, it is laudable and commands respect to watch a women give birth without any medication or climb Mt. Everest after years of training. Moreover, what about a mother who is a refugee and carries her child for miles and miles without assistance, food or water on the ultimate death march? Now, she demands respect. These women are of a different character and their motives matter.

    I propose they are either:
    Naive: Simply a product of their societal upbringing in a feminist slanted education system
    or
    Proud: A woman who has no fear should be feared, she is proud beyond acceptable levels
    or both!

    Someone needs to sit these women down and say these exact words, “You are not a man.”

    I have designed a recovery program for feminists that would no doubt be helpful in this case for the time will come when the pelvis will no longer cooperating.

  5. W. Fleetwood

    Ranger Class 6/76, “Sunshine Six”. Which seems like only yesterday to me but I just noticed it’s actually a lot closer to the damn founding than it is to the class graduating today. Gawd, # Old.

    Anyway, I then spent a year in Korea and just over two years in the 2nd Batt out of Ft, Lewis Wa. Then on to Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

    I testify that Ranger School is the best preparation for infantry combat I have ever encountered, or heard of. The grinding endless physical demands and continuous mental stress, and, though one didn’t think of it at the time, the continuous casualties are a pretty good analog to actual combat operations.

    Which brings me to my point. Something good may yet come out of this. Somebody, or somebodies, may (Please Lord!) realize that what we see happening here is pretty much what’s going to happen if you introduce women into an infantry formation and then send that formation into the meatgrinder. You’ll get a lot of fine soldiers who happen to be female killed or maimed for no return. None.

    For heavens sake this is as if if you had a unit of tunnel rats and ordered that 20% of them had to be over six feet tall to prove you’re not “heightist”. You don’t get more, better tunnel rats you get dead soldiers for no damn return. None.

    Maybe, just maybe, we can learn this the hard way in peacetime with useless injuries instead of learning it the even harder way in war with useless corpses.

  6. Burnt Toast

    If I were king for a day; I’d that woman are very different, and rather than monkey wrenching ranger standards; again, recognize that if we re looking for x-y-z etc, women generally fail at x, ok at y, and excel at z, and fill a new corps of Anna Chapmans.

    But that would be sexist.

  7. 2000£ of Education

    I picked up a guy from my old battalion as he graduated on Friday. Apparently the last all-male class had to test some TTPs prior to the females arriving, one of which is the Shit Tent™. Medic digs slit trench to standard, three dudes pony up a poncho each, and they make a little triangle around the slit trench to make sure no one ever sees you pooping. Because boys and girls are equally interchangeable and unit cohesion will be just fine and so on, but heaven help us if we see each other go number 2.

    Of course, it being dark and ranger being sleepy, guys were always pissing on the ponchos or the wind was blowing them into the slit trench itself. So lesson learned, don’t be the medic on any patrol ever. I am very glad this wasn’t around when I went through.

    As for the individuals going through, I know one of the current ones and several of the prospectives for the next iterations. I will say that, to their credit, they are several standard deviations above the norm physically….making them equal to reasonably fit dudes. They have had the advantage of being on TDY since NOV with the only duty (other than a trip to RTAC followed by pleeeeeeenty of recovery time) was a 0900 gym session with a regiment E7 designed to make them strong. It’s a pretty significant advantage in preparation, as Hognose mentioned. As such, I find it surprising that any of them failed the RPFT, since it’s the first test and a very known commodity. Anyhow, they’re as razor sharp physically as they’ll ever be right now, but I think that they may prove brittle in mountains. But does anyone with stars care?

    1. Hognose Post author

      1. No one with stars cares.
      2. Make sure your guy (1) gets all the weird food cravings out of his system, (2) sleeps as much as he wants to, and (3) PTs even though he will not want to and will be bummed at how much strength and muscle mass he’s lost in the last two months.

      I knew they’d done something about “waste station privacy,” but the Shit Tent™ (heh) details are just depressing. This happened in the 1970s with basic, and airborne, when they were integrated, and then in troop units. It went through three phases:

      I. “Women just want in on equal terms. We don’t want to change anything or lower/double standards.”
      II. “Standard/Practice is a. unfair to women or b. offensive to women and must cease or have a separate but equal female version.”
      III. “The workplace must be purged of anything offensive to women, and suggesting that women caused change is failure to support EO and sentences you to career Siberia.”

      That’s how we wound up with the unhappy mechanics in the motor pool throwing away their Snap-On calendars, because the company, aware that 99% of the mechanics-tool-buyers are guys, put pretty women in scanty clothing in the calendar. Can’t have that, because the unit might have a female mechanic assigned, or even worse, might have some lesbo/feminist contingent from DACOWITS or Congressional committee staff walk through.

      Meanwhile, the female mechanic shows up, and she needs guys around to break every rusty bolt loose, and has to have a guy follow her around because she can’t pick up her 90# tool box, and next thing you know the whole motor platoon is in turmoil because she’s had serial and parallel affairs with several guys who should know better, including the platoon sergeant (dumbass!), and an affair with the female parachute rigger who’s produced a similar amount of chaos in rigger platoon, but can at least handle her actual physical job. Except for stacking the packed 44# chutes, where guys take over for her when she fades out after four or five chutes.

      Yep, really happened. The gal who slept with everybody was plain as a stick of wood, too, but she was alone in the middle of enough dumb, horny men she was a virtual Cleopatra.

      I forget whether it was this motor platoon sergeant or the one before him that went to Leavenworth for stealing the engine. I should tell that story sometime… soldiers generally ought not to take on the role of criminal mastermind, it always ends badly.

    1. Keith

      Is there any context for that pic? On one had it looks like a training situation, but on the other it looks like a publicity photograph, and you would hope in those they could at least get the rounds loaded into the gun facing the right way.

      1. Ernie

        As one might surmise from the look on her face it’s more along the lines of “I have to get a pic of the fuckup you just pulled cause no one will believe it otherwise.”

  8. staghounds

    I wonder if these women’s failures will be held against them in the future. Is it professionally harmful to fail out of Ranger training?

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