Critics have ripped the Army’s Ranger School for months about its willingness to include female students for the first time, and even more so this week after the service announced that two women will graduate from the school Friday. The service clearly dropped the standards to do so, the critics say, frequently citing rumors or unnamed Ranger School instructors they say they know.
Frustrated with the sniping, Maj. Jim Hathaway, the No. 2 officer in the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade overseeing Ranger School, took to Facebook to respond. No matter what Ranger School officials say, he said, some people will never give the women credit.
“We could have invited each of you to guest walk the entire course, and you would still not believe,” he wrote. “We could have video recorded every patrol and you would still say that we ‘gave’ it away. Nothing we say will change your opinion.”
First Lt. Kristen Griest, a military police officer, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, will be among 96 graduates at a Ranger School ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., on Friday. Griest is expected to be promoted to captain afterward.
The comments, re-printed below with only light editing, have been widely redistributed on social media. The Washington Post asked for and received permission to republish them.
Among the officials named are Maj. Gen. A. Scott Miller, the commanding general at Fort Benning, Ga., and Maj. Gen. James Rainey, who was the brigadier general in charge of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Benning and since has been promoted and deployed to Afghanistan. Also named is Command Sgt. Maj. Curt Arnold, the senior enlisted soldier in the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.
I am not much for posting on social media, but feel that I should comment on the current situation at Ranger School. First and foremost the Ranger instructors are professional noncommissioned Officers and trained the Ranger students the same way they have since 1952. If you believe nothing else, you should have faith in your fellow Rangers to adhere to their beliefs and the Ranger Creed.
I have spent the last 18 months as the Ranger Training Brigade operations and training officer, and am now the RTB executive officer. I have been part of the process from start to finish and have watched the professionalism of the RIs in each phase. Bottom line; The RIs trained Ranger, period. I had the privilege of having RIs like Sgt. Firsts Class Grenier and Command Sgt. Maj. Purdy in Benning and Sgt. 1st Class Brimstin (now a retired command sergeant major) and Command Sgt. Maj. Edmunds in Mountains and Sgt. 1sts Class Hammond in Florida. Don’t really remember much after that, but I do remember their professionalism and what they taught me and I see the same thing today when I watch the current batch of instructors.
I would like to address a few of the rumors that have been floating around the Internet and to inject fact into the conversation.
1. The female students watched a Ranger Class before they went through the course — This is false. The females did not watch a course prior to coming through. I do find this funny, though. We have the Merrill’s Platoon members who perform opposing forces [Editor’s note: Meaning they ambush Ranger students in training sessions] and support duties for RTB and then they end up going through training. Do they get an unfair advantage? NO. The school is hard, and it sucks. You can know the answers, but you still have to perform as evident by the pass rate of the Merrill’s Platoon members.
2. The females were afforded unprecedented recycle opportunities – The women were not afforded any advantage on recycles. They went through Darby Phase, recycled and were Darby inserts. Upon a second failure they were offered a Day 1 recycle. This means they started Day 1 and had to complete the Ranger Assessment Phase a second time. There is no advantage to this. Would any of you volunteered to go through RAP week twice and take a Day 1 recycle? Most people would not as evident by the several men who were also offered a Day 1, but declined. The Day 1 recycle precedent has been in place for many years, and is nothing new. Unless you have been part of the RTB leadership… and have sat on the academic boards you would not know how common it actually is.
3. Command Sgt. Maj. Arnold is the command sergeant major of the RTB and is the most professional NCO I have worked with in 26 years. At no time did he pass anyone on a patrol. Nor did he pressure anyone to pass anyone (Male or female). As with any good NCO, he was out in the field with his RIs. He has walked patrols before the females were here and will walk patrols after. If he wasn’t then there would be complaints that he was the type of NCO who sat in his office and did nothing. He was setting the standard for his subordinate leaders, but had no grading precedent on the patrol.
4. There have been all kinds of accusations that the class got more sleep less physical training and were coddled – That simply did not happen. Just watch the videos that were taken of the Darby Queen [obstacle course]. If you honestly think an RI was going to take it easy on this class, you are mistaken.
5. Packing List – There were no changes to the packing list except for the addition of a few items. There were no additional supplements or vitamins. There was no reduction in weight. It was the same except for the few female-specific items that the women carried.
6. The commanding general [Editor’s note: Miller] walked a patrol in each phase of Class 8-15. It was his 30th anniversary of attending Ranger School. He intentionally did not walk a patrol that a female was being graded on to ensure there was no conflict of interest. The infantry commandant [Editor’s note: Rainey for most of the female soldiers’ time at Ranger School] has walked patrols and so has the CG. This is not unprecedented.
7. Observer/Advisors – This subject has caused a lot of consternation. They are non-grading cadre [of women] who were assigned to the RTB to help. They had no authority and they worked for the chain of command.
8. The ridiculous rumor that President Obama was coming to this graduation and that RIs were told to pass them before they even started Florida is absolutely false. He isn’t/wasn’t coming to graduation. [Editor’s note: A White House official confirmed that is accurate.]
9. The final comment I will say is this. No matter what we at Ranger School say the non-believers will still be non-believers. We could have invited each of you to guest walk the entire course, and you would still not believe, we could have video recorded every patrol and you would still say that we “gave” it away. Nothing we say will change your opinion. I and the rest of our cadre are proud of the conduct of our soldiers, NCOs and officers, they took the mission assigned and performed to the Ranger Standard. Rangers Lead the Way!!!!!
Previously on Checkpoint:
These are the Army’s first female Ranger School graduates