Just for reference, I have my own personal connection to Army Ranger School.Back in 1984 I put in a request to attend Army Ranger School after completing my Field Artillery Officers Basic Course (FAOBC) at Ft. Sill Oklahoma. Everything was proceeding fine since I had orders to the 2d Infantry Division in Korea as my very first duty assignment. Then something changed, I had done quite well at FAOBC, ended up making Commandant’s List, and so secretly, my name was submitted to fill a slot in the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy. The slot was competitive and I ended up getting the assignment. So after FAOBC, I had orders for Airborne and Jumpmaster Schools at Ft. Benning Georgia — but I still wanted Ranger School. I was told by my Battery Commander that if I took the Ranger School slot I would lose the Airborne Battalion assignment to Italy — easy choice for me! I completed Airborne school and graduated Jumpmaster school on the first time through, with only five jumps under my belt.
After my first assignment in Italy I had orders to return to Ft. Sill for my Artillery Advanced Officers Course (FAOAC). I would be promoted to captain and once again put in a request for Ranger School. My follow-on assignment was to the First Infantry Division and they disapproved delaying my arrival to the Big Red One for Ranger School since I was artillery and it was a mechanized division. So, that ended my pursuit of the coveted Ranger Tab.And so I give big time kudos to any Soldier who completes this rigorous light infantry combat leader course. Of course right now, the attention is fully on the two female West Point graduates who have just completed the course — Bravo Zulu.
However, this “historic” event is already shrouded in controversy. As explained by Havoc Journal, “Beyond the reports of lightning strikes amidst graded patrols in the final phase of Ranger School in Florida lies a singular truth. Aside from the reports the past few months about increased sleep, the lack of “smoke sessions,” lighter packing lists, the ridiculous requirement for male candidates to assist in constructing complex “poncho shelters” over slit trenches while trying to remain tactical in a patrol base, questionable “recycle” policies, and two-star generals walking squad patrols, the Ranger Instructors of the 4th Ranger Training Battalion were given a stark dose of reality.
Nine days ago, on the exact same morning that graded patrols began in Florida, the RIs were informed by their chain of command that they were to begin preparation to have POTUS attend graduation this coming Friday. Now, I’m no fortuneteller, but when the travel agent of the Commander-in-Chief contacts your organization, travel plans probably isn’t the message trying to be delivered. “Undue command influence” is something JAG officers warn leaders about, especially during election cycles and sensitive topics that can get young NCOs and company commanders in trouble.
I didn’t walk any of the Ranger class patrols but you can bet there’s been back channel chatter. It’s rather interesting that the president of the United States finds it important to attend a Ranger School graduation. This wouldn’t be a point of order save for the fact that President Obama didn’t see fit to attend the funeral of the top Soldier killed in Afghanistan, Major General Harold Greene. Nor did President Obama find it important to attend the funeral service of the most accomplished sniper in U.S. military history – U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle.
Nine days ago, on the exact same morning that graded patrols began in Florida, the RIs were informed by their chain of command that they were to begin preparation to have POTUS attend graduation this coming Friday. Now, I’m no fortuneteller, but when the travel agent of the Commander-in-Chief contacts your organization, travel plans probably isn’t the message trying to be delivered. “Undue command influence” is something JAG officers warn leaders about, especially during election cycles and sensitive topics that can get young NCOs and company commanders in trouble.Call it what you will, but when the president says he’s attending graduation for Ranger School, something he’s never shown interest in prior to this class, there’s obviously a reason, and I’m sure there’s at least one or two Ranger candidates that will make the cut. Unfortunately, the premier leadership school in the Army is falling victim to an agenda and will soon find itself in a swelter of media madness like its never experienced, even up to this point.”
I know the liberal progressive detractors are already rolling their eyes and heading to the comments section, but we warriors only ask for one thing — consistency. It’s apparent where the emphasis lies with Barack Obama — and if I can see it, well, you can be doggone sure everyone who has ever worn a uniform sees it. Why not attend a BUD/S graduation? Why not attend a Marine Force Recon or Air Force PJ (and no my progressive friends, that does not stand for pajamas) graduation?
The entire media world will descend on Ft. Benning this Friday for one reason — a historic moment. But you see, the code of the warrior is not about the individual. It is about the team — in this case the Ranger class. The photo ops will be immense and I’m quite sure the media tour on every news station will be memorable and incessant. What about the other 90-some odd who made the cut and earned the Ranger Tab? You see, when we become more focused on exhibits in a presidential library than the long term mission of our men and women in uniform, we celebrate the immediate and sacrifice the enduring.Does anyone care that the same president attending the Ranger School graduation is the one who ordered the active duty U.S. Army to be cut by 40,000 Soldiers? Well, at least one thing is for certain, the two female officers who will graduate Ranger School this Friday won’t have to be concerned about being a part of those cuts.
But what type of Army will Barack Obama leave? Sure, let us cheer on these two female Soldiers, but what of the females – as young as 12 — who are being raped by ISIS? Will we have a capable fighting force to do what will need to be done in defeating the global Islamic jihad? There will be short-term euphoria and the social egalitarians of the progressive socialist left will claim victory. But therein lies the problem – short-term political achievements, long term consequences.
We’ve spent how many millions of dollars in the past two years embarking on social experimentation in the military while allowing the enemy to run rampant on the battlefield?Anyone who has served will tell you that graduating Ranger School is a notable accomplishment, but it doesn’t make one a Ranger. And being in a training environment is not the same as meeting the enemy in close quarter combat. The nature of the 21st century battlefield is that there are no front lines and rear areas — heck, our troops are being killed in installations here in America.
The first American female to stand in combat was Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley aka Molly Pitcher who took up a position on the artillery gun line after the death of her husband at the Battle of Monmouth. Today women in the military must be prepared for combat engagements anywhere — even ducking incoming in a FOB chow hall. But in the end, as Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest stated, “War is about fighting, and fighting is about killing.” And being in an urban block-to-block firefight is not the same as being in an Apache helicopter or fighter jet.
I expect lots of media and photo ops for President Obama, and these two female officers will become media sensations. I applaud them and their Ranger Buddies for completing the grueling Ranger school.
But let’s remember, we now have the smallest Army since before World War II and next week Iran will be closing the deal with Russia for four S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems. Meanwhile, the global jihadists are expanding their reach. I wonder if that will be an exhibit in the Obama presidential library?