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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What’s Going On with Ranger School and Women in Combat?

A U.S. Army Staff Sgt., a team leader for a Cultural Support Team, takes notes while a
Military Information Support Operations team partnered with U.S. Special Operations
Forces conducts an engagement with shop owners in the Oshay Bazaar, Uruzgan
province, Afghanistan, April 26. 2011.
(U.S. Army photo by  Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown. Courtesy DVIDS.)
U.S. Army officials announced in mid-August that two women graduated from Ranger School, and the U.S. Department of Defense joined with the media, pundits, and politicians in cheering the news. And while the American public couldn’t avoid learning of this due to media saturation of it, fewer people are aware of the history of the DOD and the effort to put women into combat positions. Fewer still are likely aware of what is happening now within the DOD regarding women in combat and other sweeping cultural changes.

This column will explore the lesser-known aspects of the DOD and women in combat over the next few days. And to start, it will examine the latest news about women graduating from Ranger School along with the hostile way the U.S. Army has reacted to people asking questions about their graduation.

Susan Katz Keating wrote a Sept. 22 article for People and revealed that Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) received allegations from people within the Airborne & Ranger Training Brigade and/or Fort Benning, Ga. (where the Airborne & Ranger Training Brigade is headquartered) that the Army changed standards and gave special treatment to the women attending Ranger School in order to ensure that at least one of them passed. This was the first time many people likely heard of such allegations. However, I revealed similar allegations back in May of this year.

Rally Point is a professional networking site for currently serving troops, veterans, and others. A soldier who had been stationed at Fort Benning commented on the site about women being put through Ranger School and what he witnessed. Read his comment starting with, “I’m gathering that you are trying to make a point...”. It’s highly revealing. I tweeted this to journalist Robert Stacy McCain.

McCain then wrote a blog post about the news called, “War Against Human Nature: 100% Failure.” (I later tweeted to him that the women weren’t being dropped from the course but rather recycled. See the below tweet.)

But again, it has been Keating’s article that has brought attention of similar allegations to a wider audience. And the DOD, U.S. Army, and advocates of women in combat are not happy about it—not happy with her or Rep. Russell. The Army and advocates of women in combat are even attacking them for inquiring into the matter.

And the Army becoming outraged with Russell and Keating for asking questions about how women graduated Ranger School—saying the two are unjustly questioning the integrity of it and its troops—is quite bizarre considering there is no such outrage whenever anyone questions it or the DOD over anything else.

Probably the best example of this is how the Army wasn’t outraged when people (including currently serving troops) were questioning if it was trying to make women fail in Ranger School while women went through the course. Army officials offered some pushback against such allegations at the time, but there wasn’t any outrage that comes close to the venom it now spews at anyone questioning the standards and how the women were treated.

(It’s also interesting to compare how the Washington Post reported on women going through Ranger School before they graduated, and after they graduated. Post articles published before women graduated include statements—treated as legitimate—that questioned the integrity of the Army. Afterwards, they do not. Furthermore, it was the Post to which the Army granted permission to republish its Facebook post in which the Army ripped those—including private citizens—questioning the graduation.)

But while this is probably the best example of how the Army or DOD does not become outraged whenever anyone questions them over anything not related to women graduating from Ranger School, it is far from the only one.

For instance, there is no such outrage in the Army or DOD when the media—or even public officials—accuse them of lying or having no integrity about anything else (such as sexual assaults in the ranks).

Nor is there any similar outrage from the Army or DOD when people accuse its troops of being monsters who murder civilians.

U.S. forces who have tortured or killed civilians in Afghanistan have not been brought to justice because of failures in the U.S. military justice system, human rights group Amnesty International said on Monday. 
At least 1,800 Afghan civilians have been killed by coalition troops between 2009 and 2013, Amnesty said in a report released in the Afghan capital, but only six cases against U.S. military personnel went to trial over the period. . . . 
“The U.S. military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” Richard Bennett, Asia-Pacific director for Amnesty, said in a statement urging the need for reform. 
“Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by U.S. forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress.” 
The U.S. Department of Defense said troops go to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties and it took all credible reports of injuries and deaths seriously. 
“The United States has investigated U.S. military personnel and civilian personnel, including contractors, for civilian casualties that are alleged to be not incident to lawful military operations,” said spokeswoman Navy Commander Amy Derrick-Frost. 
Victims at the conference told of how they witnessed the killing of family members in night raids and survived torture by U.S. troops.

No outrage there from the DOD; just a passionless statement.

Nor has there been any similar outrage from the DOD (not officially; people within its ranks have expressed anger) about Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus accusing the Marines of having no integrity when the Marine Corps discovered that women do not perform well in combat positions.

Nor has there been outrage with female congressmen demanding an investigation into why women didn’t perform well in the Marine study of women in combat—a demand that came before Rep. Russell questioned women graduating from Army Ranger School. (In fact, pro-women-in-combat advocates have ignored this even as they are outraged with Russell.)

Nor has there been outrage from the DOD about people accusing it of manipulating intelligence. The accusations are being treated seriously and investigations are underway.

Nor has there been outrage from the Army when people within its own ranks accuse it of having a lying problem, being morally corrupt, and generally lacking integrity. In fact, the Army knows that lying and moral corruption are widespread within it.

The Strategic Studies Institute is part of the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pa. Here is how it describes what its purpose is.

The Strategic Studies Institute is the U.S. Army’s institute for geostrategic and national security research and analysis. The Strategic Studies Institute conducts strategic research and analysis to support the U.S. Army War College curricula, provides direct analysis for Army and Department of Defense leadership, and serves as a bridge to the wider strategic community.

In 2012, the SSI published, “The Moral Corrosion within Our Military Professions,” an article in which Dr. Don M. Snider, COL (USA Ret) discusses exactly what the title suggests. The article isn’t doctrine. Nor does the SSI set doctrine. But its publications (articles and otherwise) are significant and read by leadership. So if the Army knows it as an institution suffers from moral corrosion—if it is fine with one of its own drawing attention to its morality problem—why is it outraged when someone asks questions about how women graduated from Ranger School?

Dr. Snider also helped write a monograph that the SSI published in 2014. “A Soldier’s Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army’s Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?” argued that the Army is hostile towards religion.

The authors argue that an urgent leadership issue has arisen which is strongly, but not favorably, influencing our professional culture—a hostility toward religion and its correct expressions within the military. Setting aside the role of Chaplains as a separate issue, the focus here is on the role religion may play in the moral character of individual soldiers—especially leaders—and how their personal morality, faith-based or not, is to be integrated with their profession’s ethic so they can serve in all cases “without reservation” as their oath requires.

Yet another moral / integrity problem within the Army—one again recognized by members within its ranks. And again, no outrage with the people calling attention to this.

Most people probably never heard of the above two SSI publications but many more heard of the one the SSI published in 2015, and that’s because the media heavily covered it.

The SSI published, “Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession,” in February of this year. Many media outlets produced stories on it. Even veterans or other military personnel offered nods of agreement with its conclusions.

The Washington Post—the same media outlet that now serves as an ally of the U.S. Army in defending the graduation of women in combat as totally legitimate—eagerly covered the SSI examining dishonesty in the Army profession.

A new study by Army War College professors found that not only is lying common in the military, the armed forces themselves may be inadvertently encouraging it. 
The study, released Tuesday, was conducted by retired Army officers and current War College professors Leonard Wong and Stephen J. Gerras. They found that untruthfulness is “surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profession are loath to admit it.” 
The paper’s release follows a series of high-profile incidents involving bad behavior across the services, including a still-widening corruption case involving senior Navy officers and at least two incidents in which Army generals were accused of sexual assault.

There apparently were no concerns from the Post that the authors of the SSI publication might be crossing some sort of line in expressing concern about lying in the Army. (As a side note, if you want to know what the SSI publication actually says, don’t rely on media reports about it. Read the actual monograph.) Nor did anyone else in the media (including the Army Times, UPI, Time, and CNN) express such concerns even as they eagerly covered it as well.

The Time coverage of the SSI publication is particularly noteworthy because it mentioned that this SSI publication made it all the way to the top of the Army, with the Secretary of the Army even expressing agreement with at least some of its conclusions.

“Are we asking our soldiers to do too much in insufficient time? I do think it’s a legitimate question,” Army Secretary John McHugh told TIME on Tuesday. “I suspect some smart, appropriate housecleaning on our regulatory requirements for training would serve a useful purpose.” 
McHugh’s call for a housecleaning comes after a pair of retired Army officers, in a study last week, concluding that fibbing is rampant in the service. While Army officers “respond with indignation at any whiff of deceit,” the study found that within 20 minutes of sitting down to discuss the Army’s integrity they were sharing tales of deception they had told—and were hearing from others wearing Army green. . . . 
McHugh, the Army’s top civilian, agreed that there are too many regulations. “I’d be less than shocked if there are those that have outlived their usefulness,” he said at a breakfast meeting with reporters. “We need an open discussion about what it means to be an Army officer, what values do you need to display, and how do you display them, which brings us into some of the findings about dishonesty within certain officer ranks.”

So not only did the Army fail to express outrage with the authors (or rage about how angry it was that anyone would dare accuse it of having an endemic lying and integrity problem) but the Secretary of the Army actually thought they had a point. And he was not the only person inside the military community saying so.

Why then are the Army, the DOD, the media, and other women-in-combat advocates now so outraged with people inquiring into how women graduated from Ranger School? It’s clear that people regularly inquire into the actions of the DOD and its troops, and it’s also clear that people regularly accuse it and its troops of misdeeds. And yet the DOD does not fly into fits of outrage over them. The DOD even gives credence to such inquiries and accusations by regularly conducting investigations and re-investigations. On top of this, the DOD (by way of the Army) knows it has lying and integrity issues. So what is so unique about the effort to put women into combat positions that now has the Army outraged with people who inquire about how women passed Ranger School?

It’s a question civilian and military leaders, along with the public, probably should ask and quickly answer.


Next Up: The history of the effort to put women into combat, examining if women truly have already served in combat positions as advocates claim, and perhaps more.

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