Once you have stood up a battalion or two of all-female fire breathers, they will need to be put into a non-deployable status for 2-3 years to allow for an adequate train up. If we want this to be successful (which we do, unsuccessful means dead soldiers) they will need access to all the same schools that a male combat unit would have access to. Yup, this includes Ranger School. It is the premier combat leader development school, and if their leaders are able to learn the hard lessons that are taught at Ranger School, that will only make their unit better and more prepared for combat. You will note that I have not made a single mention of lowering standards to accomplish this.
Solution #2: One standard to become MOSQ in a combat arms occupation. The standard will go up, not down. It’s not a job for everyone, male or female, and should be treated as such. I believe that the current standard for males in combat arms MOS’s is already too low. The standard, for both males and females, needs to be somewhere between the current Army PFT minimums (60 points in each event), and the Ranger Physical Fitness Test (RPFT). I would suggest two minutes of push-ups (minimum 70 points on male 17-21 age group), two minutes of sit-ups (crunches for Marines), a five-mile run in less than 45 minutes, and a minimum of four dead-hang pull-ups. Yes, that means that female Marines in a combat MOS would no longer be allowed to do the flexed hang. Yes, that means males in the Army combat arms would have to start doing pull-ups. Yes, that means everyone has to run a bit more. These are not unrealistic standards for either gender, and are very achievable to anyone who wants to be taken seriously in a combat MOS. If a specific school, such as Ranger School, has higher standards (and they should), then the soldier will have to step up to meet those standards at that school. This won’t be a popular solution, and in reality will never happen (again, this article is what should happen, not what will happen), but I think it is absolutely necessary for the future of combat arms in the United States military.
Solution #3: Women will continue to be excluded from combat SOF positions, but allowed to serve in those units in a support capacity. This is a compromise, and will not make either side completely happy. This means that a female cannot serve in an 18 series MOS, attain SQI “T”, serve as an 11 series, 13F/A, 25C, or 68W in the 75th Ranger Regiment, be in a SEAL platoon, be on a MARSOC team, or be a PJ or CCT in the Air Force. They can certainly be attached at this level though, as is currently done with the CST/FET soldiers. I’m not going to wax poetic about why integration at this level is a terrible idea, so I’ll leave it up to the reader to make his or her own assumptions. They would, however, be allowed to serve in the support roles organic to those units, such as in Military Intelligence positions. It would be up to the unit if they decided to send these females through their respective selection courses before assignment. Speaking as a Ranger, and given that the 75th has a history of wanting everyone to wear the same hat, I think you would see women going through RASP under this guidance. I warned you, not everyone is going to be happy with this, but it is a compromise with the intent of keeping the integrity at the operational level of our SOF units. I graduated in the first RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program) class to allow support MOS’s through, and earn the Tan Beret. To put it lightly, the average Ranger was not very happy about E co. personnel wearing a Tan Beret at the time. I can only imagine the reaction a female soldier showing up to Battalion and sporting a Tan Beret would get. Did I mention this would be a huge compromise?
Implementation: The biggest hurdle in implementation will be buy-in from politicians and the Pentagon. In reality, this will never happen. But if they were smart, they would set aside their agenda and take a hard look at this. I firmly believe that there are women, by exception, that could step up and meet this challenge. I think the women that are serious about this need to lobby their congressperson and let them know that they want to earn their way, and not be hand-held all the way into their new MOS.
The Human Resources department of each branch will have their hands full trying to identify highly qualified, combat proven females to stand up the new units, but if you tell that Sergeant Major or Lieutenant Colonel that their next evaluation report rides on them finding the right people, you can guaran-damn-tee that they will find the right folks.
TRADOC will also need to be heavily involved in setting up the new standards and qualifications. I have been very impressed with the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) in the past, and I think they would be the perfect unit to take the lead on this task. They will need to figure out exactly how women will go to IBOLC, Ranger School, and similar courses. This will be no easy task, but where there is a will, there is a way. As a commander, I would be very confident in AWG’s ability to come up with solid standards and qualifications for the various TRADOC school’s to implement.
This plan is a jumping off point, and I am under no illusion that it would be perfect. If the military is serious about this working, and still ensuring the combat effectiveness of our military, they need to forget about their careers and be real with the politicians. They can’t do anything about the fact that they are being mandated to put women into combat arms roles, but they can at least do their best to do it right. I wish I didn’t have to write this article, I wish this wasn’t even happening. Women have done great things for our country in the past, and continue to do so, but I think combat arms jobs need to be closed to them. If that is not an option, then I guess, “It is what it is”. I, for one, will be very curious about what happens in the next five, ten, and twenty years as far as our armed forces are concerned.