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#1053 - 04/21/15 04:07 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: Yukon]
Jay_Pew Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 02/22/15
Posts: 37
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Yukon
[url=http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/585652/af-begins-testing-phase-for-women-in-combat-roles.aspx]
“This is not about raising or lowering occupational standards,” said Kelly. “The key is to ensure we have set the right standards for the occupation based on mission requirements. The effort is built upon science and experience, to ensure we continue to maintain our readiness and preserve the quality and capability of our All Volunteer Force.”

"This process is about scientifically measuring operational requirements with a focus on training and standards which correlate to the demands of combat,” said Brig. Gen. Giovanni K. Tuck, director of operations. “We owe it to our Airmen we send downrange to make sure they've got the best training and equipment to be successful, no matter where they serve."


Maybe it's just me, but this just seems like the "politically correct" way to say the standards are going to change. If the standards were not going to change, they wouldn't put so much emphasise on the fact that they want to conduct so much research into them. I think this simply comes down to whether females have the ability or not, and if it's worth it to drastically change the training program. Not whether the current standards are good or not. I feel that it's unfortunately going to become a popular result we are going to see throughout the entire military however.

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#1055 - 04/21/15 06:40 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Yukon Offline
Operator

Registered: 11/16/14
Posts: 884
Loc: Anchorage AK
It has never been about female ability to do a physical fitness test as any run, swim and calisthenics fitness test has never actually been beyond ability of a healthy adult female to pass. The fitness screening standards are designed to ensure putting trainable individuals into training.

Also SOW, TACP and to a lesser degree CCT exist to primarily support the Army. CCT also exist for Air Force missions not necessarily connected to supporting Army combat operations.


CCT, SOW and to lesser degree TACP will conform to whatever comes to be pertinent to Duty assignment supporting the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Special Forces Groups.

Pararescue's occupational and course fitness standards have always been gender neutral and connected to doing the duties in the operational environment rather than the Army unit being supported so the standards are either still valid or they are not.


Consequently the only want to be guy concern is how embarrassing is it going to be to be a quitter or a failure to train eliminated when gals are getting through the training.

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#1056 - 04/21/15 10:03 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: Jay_Pew]
JBrandlen Offline
FNG

Registered: 11/26/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Tucson, AZ, USA
Agreed.
_________________________
"Cowards never start
Quitters never finish
Winners never quit."
-Unknown

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#1061 - 04/23/15 11:09 AM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Yukon Offline
Operator

Registered: 11/16/14
Posts: 884
Loc: Anchorage AK
Originally Posted By: Jay_Pew

If the standards were not going to change, they wouldn't put so much emphasise on the fact that they want to conduct so much research into them.
The studies are needed as very few military occupations have ever had or currently have military occupational performance standards, particularly when expressed in terms of an annual physical fitness test. Further course required physical fitness tests do not correlate to performing career duration of physically demanding and hazardous duties.

Course fitness standards (Special Forces Assessment and Qualification courses, Pre Ranger & Ranger School, RASP 1 and 2, USMC Infantry Officer Course, USAF EOD PAST, TACP PAST, Basic Airborne Course PFT and etc.) are limited to the duration of a course and once the course is completed the standards no longer apply.

There are no Army Special Forces Branch (18 MOS series) occupational fitness standards once the 18 series MOS is awarded.

Although Army Regulation 611–1, Enlisted Assignments and Utilization Management, para 5.2 objectives discloses “The objective of the Ranger Program is to maintain Army readiness through ranger-qualified Soldiers (SQI “G” and “V”). There is no physical fitness standards connected to retaining SQI G (ranger) and SQI V (ranger-parachutist) once the individual has successfully completed the US Army Ranger School.

The Ranger program (school, SQIs, Ranger Tab) objective of maintaining Army readiness through ranger-qualified Soldiers originates with the Korean War.

Generally, personnel reports during the Korean War exposed several difficulties pertinent to combat units, in general, having difficulties in maintaining combat effectiveness pertinent to having competent leaders (trained and or experienced) and having leaders willing to lead others in combat. Put differently, those put into positions involving tactical leading were inadequately prepared to deal with the quickly changing tactical situations encountered on the Korean battlefields.

-- "officers continued to arrive with combat MOS's who were physically incapable of handling the jobs indicated by the MOS, it was necessary for FEC replacement installations to screen officers for age and physical condition as well as for experience and training in verifying their MOS's."

-- "Eighth Amy complained that a number of officers were reluctant to command troops in action and asked that remedial or punitive steps be taken, but in February there was still evidence that proper disposition was not being made of substandard officers. As late as June 1951, commanders were encouraged to make use of their powers under AR >605-200, 615-369, and 615-368 to eliminate ineffective or undesirable personnel."

The readiness problem correlates to lack of small tactical leading which is a squad leader (NC0), Fire Team Platoon NCO/officer, Company Commander duty and responsibility. This is why the Ranger School is a leadership development course and not a to be a commando, raider, or ranger course.

The short history of the Ranger school is Ranger School History is it formed September 1950, extended to all combat units October 1951. From 1954 to the early 1970's, the Army's goal, though seldom achieved, was to have one Ranger qualified non-commissioned officer per infantry platoon and one officer per company. In an effort to better achieve this goal, in 1954, the Army required all combat arms officers to become Ranger/Airborne qualified.

The goal and the objectives of “maintaining Army readiness through ranger-qualified Soldiers” began getting diluted (lack of a better descriptor) after implementation of the all-volunteer-military in 1973 which coincided with integration of women into many military occupations. This is when the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) deposed all airborne, Special Forces course fitness standards with the age 17-21 (male or mal- and-female fitness standards becoming the fitness standard for Army courses and the AFPT becoming the career fitness standard regardless of unit of assignment, duty position and MOS.

As the Ranger School expanded the MOS and Branch eligibility to attend list a problem of student arriving with no basic infantry skills and competencies and being physically incapable to participate in the training became an ever increasing problem. This resulted in 1979 of the formation of pre-ranger courses which have become a prerequisite to getting placement in a Ranger School class training slot. Pre-ranger In addition to being a physical fitness training course (which the Ranger is not) is also a basic infantry training skills course (basic land nav, basic patrolling movement skills to include immediate reaction drills, and etc).

The point be is military classification (job placement) is screening and selecting the best occupation to place the drafted or all-volunteer-civilian to serve a military obligation into that gives the military service an effective win the fight capability. This screening is not simply giving a fitness test that in reality have never been beyond the ability of healthy 14-15 year old boys and girls to successfully pass.

As the Ranger School got diluted from this purpose by expanding the MOS eligibility to attend list a need existed to ensure those in combat support and support MOSs had competencies in basic infantry skills (land navigation, combat water survival, carrying combat loads, immediate reaction drills and etc). This resulted in 1979 of the Pre-Ranger Courses and establishing completion of Pre-ranger course as perquisite to getting placement in a Ranger School class training slot.

The issue is readiness and how much impairing and detrimental compromise is acceptable. Readiness is not about getting individuals through training and qualification courses. It is about having these individual physically capable and emotionally-psychologically available to put into the fight. In this regard combat readiness transfers from individual readiness to unit readiness. As units availability of assigned combat ready (deployable) members assigned decreased from 100% the effectiveness and dependability of the unit becomes impaired. At some point lack of members assigned to the unit being mission ready and deployable causes the unit to be completely ineffective in accomplishing assigned tasks and missions. The lack of competent NCOs and officers willing to lead-command troops in action has greater mission impairment and mission failure potential for some military occupations or unit mission capabilities than for others. Thus this is why occupational standards (career in a military occupation performing duties of the occupation) is more of a concern than course standards.

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#1073 - 04/24/15 10:28 AM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
ShortyZ99 Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 11/19/14
Posts: 32
Loc: Virginia

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#1091 - 04/26/15 01:54 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Yukon Offline
Operator

Registered: 11/16/14
Posts: 884
Loc: Anchorage AK
Volunteers needed to test gender-neutral physical standards By Capt. Jennifer Richard, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs / Published April 22, 2015

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO RANDOLPH, Texas -- The Air Force is looking for Airmen from the Joint Base San Antonio area to voluntarily participate in one of the two high-vis physical standards studies required to potentially open the last six Battlefield Airmen career fields to women and to ensure gender-neutral standards across all Air Force specialties.

The Physical Tests and Standards Study runs from April 13 to July 18 and the Re-validation of Strength Qualification Standards Study runs from April 15 to Aug. 1.

The Physical Tests and Standards Study will establish fitness standards for training and operational levels for Battlefield Airmen career fields and will consist of familiar physical tests like running, pull ups, push ups, as well as combat-related simulations like swimming, carrying life-size dummies, rock climbing, and climbing walls. The Re-validation of Strength Qualification Standards Study will ensure scientifically-based, operationally-tied fitness tests and standards for entry into all career fields and will consist of familiar entry physical tests, to include those that measure strength.

Volunteers can come from a variety of backgrounds – active duty, guard or reserve, female and male. All participants must be between the ages of 18 years and 45 years old, must have a current passing physical fitness test (all four components), current preventive health assessment/medical clearance, willing to attempt physical tasks and must complete a safety and medical screening questionnaire.

For Airmen interested in volunteering to participate in the Physical Tests and Standards Study, Airmen must be willing to commit for a consecutive two-week period between April 13 to June 13 or for one week between June 22 to July 18. Airmen should gain permission from their supervisors and then contact the AF Fitness Testing and Standards Unit by emailing T2@us.af.mil or calling DSN 487-2043.

For Airmen interested in volunteering to participate in the Re-validation of Strength Qualification Standards Study, Airmen must be willing to commit for four hours each day on May 28 and 29; additional opportunities are available between July 11 to Aug. 1. Airmen should gain permission from their supervisors and then contact Katie Linnenkohl at kastville@humanperfsys.com.

The studies to develop and validate physical and mental standards will provide data for the Air Force’s Women in Service Review implementation plan. Following the 2013 decision of then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to rescind the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, each service has been studying physical and mental requirements to ensure they are career-specific, operationally-relevant and gender-neutral by September 2015. In the Air Force, currently 99 percent of career fields are open to both men and women; the remaining one percent of positions are in ground combat and/or special operations career fields.

Thank you for your interest in the Tier 2 study, a landmark event for our AF. These FAQs are not all encompassing but answer key questions. If you desire to volunteer or have additional questions, please contact us at: T2@us.af.mil, or 210 652-2043.

What is meant by Tier 2?
The AF Fitness Assessment (FA) is a “Tier 1” fitness test; it indicates health and general fitness, is gender-specific, but AFSC independent. However, when generating fitness tests for AFSCs, we must base the standards on “Tier 2” requirements - the job demands. Tier 2 tests and standards are occupationally-specific, operationally-relevant and independent of age and gender. Currently, the AF is focused on the Tier 2 approach for Battlefield Airmen (BA).

What is a Battlefield Airman?
Approximately 4,300 personnel in six AFSCs are considered Battlefield Airmen: Special Tactics Officer, Combat Control, Special Operations Weather, Combat Rescue Officer, Pararescue, and Tactical Air Control Party. BA operate as surface combatants removed from traditional airbase support, often under austere conditions and may employ alone or as part of an AF, joint, interagency or coalition force to support Combatant Commander Objectives.

What is the study about?
In FY12 the AF Fitness Testing and Standards Unit initiated a Tier 2 effort to develop and validate science-based tests and standards for BA. While the study was underway, the SecDef mandated that ground combat positions should be open to women - the Women in the Services Review (WISR); the Tier 2 Study will also meet the WISR requirements set out by the SecDef mandate.

Am I qualified to volunteer for this study?
AF AD, ANG, AFRC males and females, ages 18 yrs - 45 yrs may participate. You must have a current PHA and have a current, passing, four component AF FA.

What is the time commitment?
The AF Fitness Unit is conducting testing from 13 Apr - 18 Jul. Volunteers commit to a two week window, approximately four hours per day. We highly encourage supervisors to allow full participation in this SecDef driven study.

What will I be doing during the study?
The AF Fitness Unit will ask you to perform to the best of your ability on a series of physical demanding tests over the ten test days. Week one consists of fitness tests assessing your agility, power, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic and aerobic capacities. Week two consists of a series of operationally-relevant task simulations, e.g., swimming, wall climbing, and dragging simulated casualties.

What should I wear during the study?
You will wear the AF PT Uniform and ABUs over weeks one and two, respectively. For aquatic events males will wear PT shorts (compression shorts underneath optional) and ABU t-shirt; females will wear a conservative, one-piece swimsuit and ABU t-shirt.

Will I need to worry about injuring myself?
This study was approved by the AF Human Subject Institutional Review Board; the board ensures study subjects are not exposed to unnecessary risk. As with any human movement, there is a minor chance of injury. To mitigate injury risk we will monitor your heart rate, ensure you are not performing any risky movements. Also, we have safety devices in place, e.g., belays on the climbing activities.

Reporting Instructions

On the first day of testing you will report at 0730 hrs to Building 4908 on JBSA Lackland, which is located near Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center. We will provide subsequent reporting locations and times to you at the conclusion of each day.

Driving Directions: take Hwy 90 to Military Drive/LAFB Exit, head south on Military Drive (0.7 mi). Turn left and enter LAFB at Luke Gate East. Remain on Luke Drive until Foster Avenue (0.6 mi). Turn left on Foster Avenue. Bldg 4908 will be straight ahead through the gate (0.2 mi).

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#1092 - 04/26/15 03:54 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Jay_Pew Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 02/22/15
Posts: 37
Loc: USA
I'm don't mean to be a smart-ass but "gender neutral" just seems like a politically correct way to say standards will be lowered so females can make it. I know you said earlier that's it's not about the standards and it's about performance in the career field, but the way I think about it, the job won't get any easier just because you're a woman, or if the standards are lowered for anyone. Obviously I have no real experience in the career field like yourself to be able to have much merit to what I'm saying. From what I understand, standards are set in place to weed out those that aren't pyshically and mentally able to do to such jobs. They represent minimums, in which they alone will not guarantee success in the pipeline. Mediocrity should never been something to strive for in programs like that. If you were to have a trainee come into the program with those numbers, I feel that it would be advised to them to hold off until higher numbers were reached. These testings will promote the idea that reaching the minimum is "fine by them" which from what I understand about special operations programs that the minimum will never get you were you want to be or be successful.

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#1095 - 04/26/15 06:34 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Yukon Offline
Operator

Registered: 11/16/14
Posts: 884
Loc: Anchorage AK
Gender neutral pertinent to human performance implies the standards are connected to doing something (task-based) is the same for both genders rather than gender-normed to account for physiological and biological existing between genders.

What often gets ignored is the natural environment (climate, weather, terrain, elevation, depth of sea water, etc) is unaware of gender. Further the battlefield of kill or be killed doesn't care about gender either as General Patton stated your duty is not to die for your country or cause but to make the enemy die for his. In this regard combatants kill all who are not on their side of the fight and do not care if they kill a male or female as they prefer somebody other than themselves do the dying.

This is why effectiveness, efficiency, safely, survivability, dependability, reliability, availability complicate lowering human performance standards too much for some military occupations.

Quote:
FITNESS TESTS, STANDARDS, AND NORMS: What is Valid? What is Legal?

TESTING TERMS

• A job-task simulation test is a test that measures the ability to perform a specific physical task of the job such as pushing a car, jumping a fence etc.

• A physical fitness test measures an underlying physical factor or “ability” that predicts the capability to perform strenuous job tasks.

• A physical abilities test is the same as a fitness test. However, that term has been misused to also describe a job task simulation test. (Why couldn’t a job-task simulation test be called a physical abilities test?)

• An agility test measures a specific fitness factor or motor skill called agility (the ability to move quickly and change directions). However, that term has been misused to also describe a job task simulation test. (the EEOC guidelines say that “fitness testing” is the same as agility testing.)

Norm or percentile score is based on how that score compares to the group of people tested. It is not based on job relatedness, i.e. does the score predict the ability to perform essential functions of the job.

• A standard is a score on a test that has been validated as being predictive of the minimal amount of the factor measured by the test that is required to do the job.

• Job relatedness of a test and test score (standard) means that meeting the test standard is predictive of being able to perform the essential functions of the job (job tasks). If a test measures a factor that has no to relationship to performing the essential functions of the job (job tasks) or if meeting the standard does not predict the ability to perform the essential functions of the job (job tasks) it is not job related. Both the test and the test score used as a standard must show job relatedness.
I emphasized in red the text distinguishing gender-normed testing from gender-neutral testing.

Doing the task effectively and safely in the operational environment is the critical factor often ignored or avoided in developing and implementing gender-neutral occupational human performance standards. Further, developing job-task simulation tests that includes operational environmental variables is difficult to replicate repetitively at all testing locations and increases risk of injuring and killing the test taker.

Also entry job classification standards do not necessarily need to be the fully qualified to do in the operational environment standards if the standards are being used to put individuals into a regime of training that includes fitness improvement training to bring individuals up to the necessary level of occupational fitness. Both the PJ/CRO Development Course and PJ/CRO Indoctrination Course does have fitness improvement training goals and training objectives.

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#1259 - 05/20/15 04:45 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Yukon Offline
Operator

Registered: 11/16/14
Posts: 884
Loc: Anchorage AK
Air Force testing gender-neutral standards in San Antonio Bailey McGowan, KENS 5 5:23 p.m. CDT May 20, 2015

By 2016, all branches of the military must integrate women into all units, including combat.

For the Air Force, currently more than 99 percent of positions are open to women. That means they need to open the last six jobs to women including: Special Tactics, Combat Control, Special Operations Weather, Combat Rescue, Pararescue and Tactical Air Control.

In order to open those fields, the Air Force must look at the standards for qualifying for those fields and create a gender-neutral standard.

At Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Dr. Neal Baumgartner is doing just that.

He's leading a three-part study to develop the new requirements. The requirements will be science-based standards developed from the job requirements.

The study began by looking at the current physical requirements and asking, what is actually needed to be successful at these jobs. It took 19-months of research to determine out of 100 tests which should be used to determine occupational relevance.

Now, the Air Force is testing volunteers on 39 tests to see if those tests show success on the job. Those tests include carrying a weight down a pipe, transporting a dummy and climbing a rock wall, to name a few. Eventually their will be about 10 tests.

"It's independent of body size, can that human being perform that physical task," Dr. Baumgartner said. "If we find out that pull-ups is a good test and 12 repetitions is the number, then all men, all women will have to do that to maintain their operational standards."

We weren't allowed to identify the airmen involved because the test is ongoing. The airmen we did speak with say they were honored to be a part of the historic study.


"It's challenging but in the best of ways. It really pushes you to see where you're at," a female airman said. "Women who are able to do[the tests], depending on what the standards are set just have to be unbelievable strong."

A male airman agreed saying the tests were difficult but rewarding.

"There's boundaries that anybody can break though. and I don't think it should be set or based on gender so the fact that it's gender neutral should be a greater experience for the Air Force overall."

The study will finish by cross validating a prototype test. Dr. Baumgartner will turn in his results to the Air Force at the end of July.

The Air Force began placing women in combat aircraft in 1993. These six positions will open 4,350 jobs across the total force of 600,000 airmen.

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#1300 - 05/29/15 03:43 PM Re: Women joining Air Force Special Operations Units, your thoughts? [Re: denroy17]
Yukon Offline
Operator

Registered: 11/16/14
Posts: 884
Loc: Anchorage AK
All 8 women fail Ranger School: Some Rangers say standards should change


On Friday, the Army is expected to announce that all the women who attempted to graduate from Ranger School had officially failed to meet the standards, according to a military source.

By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer May 29, 2015

Washington — On Friday, the Army is expected to announce that all the women who had attempted to graduate from Ranger School had officially failed to meet the standards, according to a military source.

Ranger School, which grooms the Army’s most elite fighting force, opened its doors to women for the first time this year. Eight of the 20 women who originally entered were allowed to recycle through the program after they fell out in their first go-round. The Friday announcement confirms that this happened again.

To many, this means the system is working as it should.

The Rangers are the best of the best, and being a Ranger means passing a physical test that pushes body and mind to the breaking point. If women can’t do it, the argument goes, then they shouldn’t be Rangers.

But there is another opinion quietly being voiced as well: that Ranger School is more akin to a rite of passage – an opportunity for men to “thump their chest,” as one Ranger puts it – than a realistic preparation for leading in war. That women can actually make Ranger units more effective. And that the standards that keep them out are outdated.

It is an opinion, perhaps surprisingly, that comes from two current Rangers.

This is the sort of suggestion that has long been guaranteed to create a robust outcry in many soldierly quarters – one that involves, put most politely, the charge that this would amount to lowering standards in order to meet some goal born of political correctness.

It isn't a way of thinking likely to gain great traction anytime soon. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army’s top officer, made this clear during a breakfast with reporters Thursday. While praising the performance of the women at the Ranger School, he added: “I’m actually fairly adamant about not changing the physical standards.”

But a discussion is percolating.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told the Navy Times this week that once women start attending SEAL training, it would make sense to examine the standards. "First, we're going to make sure there are standards. Second, that they are gender-neutral, and third, that they have something to do with the job," he said.

It is increasingly men who are doing the talking about standards because, they say, they've trained in the schools, served in the field, and they believe it's the right thing to do.

"Of course women don't want to change the standard – they don't want to be accused of lowering it," says Col. Jason Amerine, a Ranger and West Point graduate. "And men don't want to change it either, because it lets us thump our chest."

As a result, "women will always fight to meet the male standard, even if it's arbitrary and kind of stupid," he adds. "I'm often pretty horrified at the adversity they face, while they keep their mouths shut and deal with it."

Other agree that the time has come for a conversation.

“I think it’ll be contentious, but I think it’s equitable and sensible to ask the question about what are the [Ranger School] standards that are only related to the fact that only men have ever done it," says retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, who served as the top commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, as well as three tours in Army Ranger battalions.

What's more, "it needs to be a Ranger qualified leader," he adds, one with "intestinal fortitude" to ask: "What’s the ‘secret sauce’ of Ranger School? How do you not dilute that, but make sure the standards make sense?”

This argument is less about gender equity than the firm belief that women can make Ranger battalions better. In modern warfare, relations with local populations are crucial, and women Rangers would provide unique value added in places such as Afghanistan or Iraq, where cultural norms often prohibit contact between male soldiers and women. Ranger School also showed women were innovative problem-solvers who offered fresh approaches in the field.

On the battlefield itself, they have proven themselves. While at war, Colonel Amerine says, “I was rarely with female soldiers who couldn’t hang.”

To him, this raises the question of what Ranger School is actually about. As new technologies potentially make raw physical strength less important, the real challenge, many say, becomes bringing women’s leadership skills into the upper echelons of the armed forces.

For Col. Jason Dempsey, a fellow Ranger and West Point graduate, this points to a need for “reassessing what war-fighting is, and what’s really important,” he says, rather than “having 100,000 guys who are essentially pack mules.”

Ranger School could be made better, says Amerine, who was awarded a Bronze Star with “Valor” for Special Forces action in Afghanistan in the opening days of the war, and is currently under whistleblower investigation by the Army for criticizing US hostage rescue policy (Amerine has served on special forces hostage rescue missions).

“Nobody is saying, ‘Are the standards kind of stupid?’ ” he adds. “What’s interesting is that no one had this much love for the standards when it was only men.”

As it stands today, Ranger School involves, say, “carrying 60 or 70 pounds on your back and walking for 12 miles – it’s not brain surgery,” Colonel Dempsey says.

Despite this, “Any effort to change that is ‘changing the standard.’ ”

The question, he adds, is: Are these standards a fair measure of the challenges of combat?

Dempsey recalls being in violent Kunar province in Afghanistan and hiking up to the rugged Pakistan border. Along for the mission was a male first sergeant who was also a Ranger-tabbed Golden Gloves boxer. The unit had to stop for the first sergeant because he needed to rest during the strenuous march.

“No one’s going to say that the first sergeant is a deadbeat. We need him, and we’re just going to take a break.”

On other occasions, he adds, the combat patrols would simply make the decision not to bring along their heavy packs.

“The equipment we carry is just insane,” Amerine says. “We all have back injuries at the end of our careers.”

The No. 1 Department of Veterans Affairs claim – made by 58 percent of all claimants – is muscular-skeletal injuries.

“If we really are serious about integrating the force, the equipment we carry is going to be one of the things we have to have a hard conversation about,” Amerine says. “It’s in our grasp technologically to make things a lot lighter.”

Take away brute strength as one of the pillars of Ranger School, and its purpose begins to preparing Army soldiers to be excellent leaders, which has long been the promise of Ranger School, he adds.

In that context, the Ranger pass-fail rates look different. After West Point invested four years building the men in Amerine’s class into leaders, “All of us were expected to go to Ranger School, and all of us were expected to pass,” he says.

But that’s not true of women, “and I have a problem with that,” he adds. “I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with that structure.”

What he remembers from the six months it took to get his Ranger tab was that “my feet didn’t feel the same for literally two years,… but I can’t honestly say I learned much.”

“If Ranger School is actually about teaching soldiers how to lead and how to fight, then maybe the rite-of-passage aspect of it needs to be lightened,” he says. It might make more sense to figure out “what is the standard for serving in combat, then deal with the rite of passage.”

For now, there’s no indication that the Army is even considering such a move. But neither is it considering closing off women from trying for their Ranger tab.

“We’ll probably run a couple more pilots,” General Odierno said. “I don’t think we’re going to give up on it.”

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