Today, two female officers will graduate from the United States Army Ranger School and receive their Ranger tabs. It is a remarkable accomplishment and I won’t be one to detract from what they have done. Truthfully, I am Marine Infantry, so I can’t speak authoritatively about Ranger training, Ranger tabs, or any other patches one might put on their shoulder. Because, to be honest, it all looks a bit gaudy to me. That’s right, Marines know uniform fashion, ahem Dress Blues, and this decorating your sleeve with patches makes you look like an 8th grade Trapper Keeper. Fashion aside, it does appear that women have completed the requirements of a US Army Ranger and America must understand what it has gotten itself into. I am not opposed to female infantry, although my experience lends me to not preference it. I know what Grunt Life means and I wouldn’t want it for either one of my daughters. But America wants it and sooner or later, America gets what America wants. And it is with that, I just want America as proud as they may be right now to understand the terms of its eventual purchase. Because the above photo is cute, but the future of female infantry will look nothing like it and you might be shocked at what you have asked for your daughters.
Doing the Dirty
There is but one sexist comment I feel like I have to make just to get it out of the way. I like to think I am an enlightened man, but truthfully only of the caveman variety. But the two female officers that are graduating Army Ranger School today are kind of cute. Yes, I know it is sexist because you are saying, “Jeff, you would never call a male Army Ranger cute would you?” To that my answer is most certainly no. I most certainly would not call a male Army Ranger cute. But I am a man, and when I saw the West Point graduation pictures, not so much the buzzed head ones, my genetic predisposition led me to think, hey, these girls are kind of hot. But that leads me to my next point.
America believes that the integration of females into the infantry can be a completely asexual experience. Can and should it be free from sexual assault and rape? Most certainly it can be as there is never any excuse for such action. But can America expect the average 18 to 22 year old to never get an erection while thinking of their female co-workers? You are talking about the same men who can get “romantic” with themselves in a porta potty overflowing with the Battalion’s feces. Never mind that over 60% of affairs in America happen at work. Forget about that co-worker that you have grown emotionally affectionate with after years of working together. Never mind the Ashley Madison hacking scandal that revealed over 15,000 military email addresses. Never mind the fact that young people just like to plain old fashioned do it.
I am not saying that this is a reason to stop female infantry at all. These women are professionals and I am certain they will act as such. However, I am saying to America that you need to dispel any expectations you have about men and women living, working, and sleeping in such close proximity without sexual attraction taking place. You cannot make humans asexual creatures simply because you want them to be and this integration will be no different. So as this integration grows, please just be honest and don’t forget how private parts work and then blame the military as if we lack all human self-control. It is going to happen in the military for the same reasons it happens in your workplace so spare me your selective outrage. Send any large Co-ed American corporation overseas for 15 months and see how many people start bumping uglies.
Most of the debate I have seen in the Military community this past week has not been about opposition to female infantry. Rather, I think that most of the military community has accepted it and their only insistence is that the standards to be a Ranger, Marine Infantry, or even Navy SEAL be held intact. And what America must understand about this insistence on standards is that it has nothing to do with keeping women out. I fear that much of America without military experience views these standards as a “poll tax” of sorts designed to disenfranchise a portion of our population. Well sorry America, but if that were the case we would just make it a rule to pee standing up in the infantry and no funnels ladies because that is cheating. Rather, you might be surprised that with these rules, the military is light years ahead of the rest of society in terms of equality. Because regardless of race, religion, and now gender, the infantry hates you equally if you can’t hack the Grunt Life. Picture and shirt courtesy of Gruntworks.
Ok, we might not hate you, but if you cannot live up to the grueling physical requirements of the infantry, at a very minimum, we do ask you to know your role and smell what the Grunt is cooking. If you are a grown man who cannot carry his weight, you will be derided and mocked out of the infantry. Because you will get us and yourself killed. And ladies, you don’t get a special exception to that. Very few Americans know what it is like be out on foot patrol in the middle of an Iraqi city and realize no one is immediately coming to save the day if this goes south. All you have is the Marine next to you and yet you feel as bold as a lion because you know what it means to be a Marine, or Ranger, or SEAL. So hear me now America on behalf of one who has earned one of those titles, do not make it mean less. Because for those who need it most, it will be all that they have at one of the most pivotal if not last moments of their existence. Until the nature of Infantry warfare changes either via Space Marines or Giant Robot Exoskeletons, the standards of today matter.
It Doesn’t Get Better
I do think America should applaud these two ladies as they most certainly endured much and kept going while others quit. They seem to have the respect of many of their peers even if many doubt why they were given multiple chances. They are both West Point graduates and accomplished junior officers and as such, America already had a reason to be thankful for them. But lastly, America should understand that it is not over for them. Truthfully, I don’t know when or if they will actually make it into a Ranger Battalion or when female Infantry will hit the Marine Fleet. However, America should not forget that our military does not train for the sake of practice. We train for War and when War comes, it pays no attention to the debates that embroil this country over gender equality.
If America would envision a combat load is heavy on patrol in the forests of America, you need to feel its weight after hours of foot patrol in the Iraqi sun. Then as you have leaped from street to street and building to building, you need to feel its weight on you each time you try to get up, parched from a lack of water and bleeding from the rocks and sand around you. The weight of your helmet presses down on you as you look around for potential threats. Then just as you feel your strength waning, you must elevate your rifle, or God forbid a SAW to your eye level and keep it steady enough to engage the enemy with accuracy. Should the Marine next to you fall, his weight will now become your burden. There is no passing grade, or test, but the mere reality of Grunt Life awaits these ladies and they need to understand that something wicked this way comes. Just ask the famous Malboro Man from Fallujah below.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t want Grunt life for my daughters as I know full well what it means. Would I enjoy a society where they are allowed to do so, I guess. But I know for a fact that what training simulates is but a fraction of the reality that awaits them. If they can’t do it, they will die a death at the hands of evil men and so will others. These ladies passed the test and we should congratulate them. If they can hack it, then welcome. But combat veteran infantryman recognize what truly awaits them and America should grasp what it has purchased on their behalf. And oh, to our newest female Rangers, don’t get all caught up on me calling you cute and stuff. I know an out of shape 36 year old has been Marine Grunt is on your bucket list and all, but I’m a happily married man. But welcome to the Grunt Life ladies, it only gets worse from here.
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