“WASHINGTON — Ten women who were commissioned Army officers in the spring graduated from the initial infantry training course Wednesday, becoming the Army’s first female infantry lieutenants. The women were among 166 soldiers to complete the Infantry Officer Basic Leadership Course at Fort Benning in Georgia, a 17-week class that provides new officers the basic skills to lead a rifle platoon into combat, said Army Lt. Col. Matthew W. Weber, the commander of the unit that oversees the course. Officers are commissioned through ROTC, Officer Candidate School or the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.”
“The infantry officer course is a “critical step” toward leading a rifle platoon, but the soldiers who graduated the Army’s first gender-integrated infantry class Wednesday will not join a combat unit for nearly a year, Weber said. They will attend additional courses to prepare them to serve in the traditionally all-male infantry. Those classes include the famously grueling Ranger School, Airborne School, Stryker Leaders Course and Mechanized Leaders Course, Weber said. Eventually they’ll become platoon leaders at Fort Hood in Texas or Fort Bragg in North Carolina.”
“This, the training of an infantry lieutenant, is a process until they step into a rifle platoon,” Weber said. “This is but the very first step in the process.” Stars and Stripes
I just don’t see how this is going to work… other than as an equal opportunity sideshow act. Even a superbly qualified female infantry platoon leader will still be an object of rare curiosity. I’m all for equal opportunity in employment, but being an infantry leader at the platoon level is not a job. It’s a sacred and deadly profession, a calling, a vocation. I could see qualified female officers and soldiers on an infantry battalion staff or in the headquarters company, but I’d rather not. I guess I’m just not a “modern man.”
The military education system has changed since my day. Many in my Infantry Officer Basic Course (IOBC) went straight from graduation to their first infantry platoon. During the last three weeks of my IOBC, we were tracked into light infantry or mech infantry training. In the light track, we did a week of patrolling (Ranger Week), advanced demolitions, defending from and attacking armor, MOBA (military operations in built-up areas) and airmobile operations. The mech guys took their coolers and duffle bags to the field and rode around in M-113s. They said us light guys were anachronisms and would be extinct in a year or so.
According to the article, no infantry officer goes straight to their first platoon after the Infantry Officer Basic Leadership Course. Do they have to go through the Ranger Course? If so, that would be a major change. I’d appreciate an update on infantry officer training in today’s Army.
During the last week in my IOBC we were told there were a lot of openings in the upcoming Ranger Course and we were welcome to try out for it. I figured there’d be no snakes or gators to contend with as a Winter Ranger, so I and many of my buddies said, “Why not?” We were given the PT and swim test the next day and processed into the Ranger training company the afternoon of our graduation from IOBC. I remember us making a game out of giving the Ranger sergeants a ration of crap about us being big time officers now and the sergeants telling us that they’ll remember us come Monday morning. We all got a kick out of it and those sergeants clearly did remember us come Monday morning.
While looking for an online version of this article, I found another taste of the modern Army.
“WASHINGTON — Two female Army officers have been approved for initial Special Forces training, the first step in the long process to earn the coveted Green Beret, an Army spokeswoman said Monday.
The women are the first female soldiers to be accepted into the Special Forces Assessment and Selection and could report to the three-week program at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as early as October, said Maj. Melody Faulkenberry, a spokeswoman for the Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center.” Stars and Stripes
I don’t blame them for trying. To aspire to “earn the coveted Green Beret” is a worthy endeavor. But again, I just can’t see how a female ODA commander would work. I certainly don’t see it as an enhancement of Special Forces capabilities.
I do remember when I saw, actually heard, the first female member in 10th SFG(A). We were standing on the tarmac going through the manifest call for a night jump at Fort Devens. As our last names were called, we’d respond with a resounding “Here.” All of a sudden, we heard a high pitched “Here” and we all turned around. It was our first female rigger. I heard someone mutter, “When the hell did that happen?”
It appears the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (A&S) is now a prerequisite for attending the actual SFOQC. That didn’t exist when I went through. We applied, took a physical and, if accepted, showed up at the JFKSWC to take the PT and swim test on day one. I was surprised that half our class was weeded out by that test. From what I’ve seen, that A&S is extremely physical, much more so that the PT and swim test. There’s a very good chance that these aspiring female Green Berets will not make through A&S. That’s what’s happening at the Basic School at Quantico.