I remember hearing in 2010 from a buddy at the Pentagon that the combat exclusion policy for women in combat arms would be overturned no matter what “about a year from the President’s last year.” At the time I thought he was crazy, but the next year I heard the same from another friend. His take was even more troubling: “There is a loosely connected group of advocates that have found huge traction with the current civilian leadership here and they have a pretty well-thought out campaign plan to get women into combat arms,” he told me. “Some of the groups simply want equality, others talk about more women generals, and there’s one group that is linking this to changing American male culture.” Looking back, many of the things I am seeing now make sense when remembering my friends’ comments.
Today I am privy to most of the plans that are currently in place to put women into combat arms. I have been told, again by acquaintances working at the Pentagon and at various headquarters around the US military, that all of the “experiments” that the services have been undergoing for some time now have been a sideshow. The decision had been made from the get-go. As one Female Engagement Team Program manager told many in Afghanistan in 2011, “the decision has already been made; we just need to talk about “the how” instead of “if”.”
This means that the Ranger School “experiment” was an experiment in name only. It was guaranteed from the beginning to graduate a woman and that graduation would be used as proof that the combat exclusion rule needed to go. This, of course, matches what every Army Command Sergeant Major (9) in 2011-2013 told me was said to them by high-level CSMs and General Officers while attending their pre-command courses: “women will be in combat arms and women will graduate Ranger School, if any of you has a problem with that, you need to get out of the military.” They reported that the Ranger Instructors at Ranger School were told the same thing.
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