Showing posts with label CST. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CST. Show all posts

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Women in the Military

Italian Female Soldier (DVIDS)

New Issue - PRISM. The Center for Complex Operations of the National Defense University (NDU) has posted a new issue of PRISM, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2016. This quarterly publication has a wealth of articles on many topics. This specific issue, 214 pages long, is entitled "Women, Peace, & Inclusive Security". Some of the articles explore the use of Female Engagement Teams (FETs) and Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) as well as female members of the National Guard's Agribusiness Development Teams in Afghanistan. Also profiled are female members of military units from NATO and around the world.

U.S. Female Soldier in Pre-Ranger Training (DVIDS)

Lower PT Standards for Females in Rangers? According to one news article posted on the Ranger Regiment & school are now adopting different physical fitness standards for men and women who will enter training for Ranger School and once assigned to the Ranger Regiment. Apparently the regiment is moving to an "Army Physical Fitness Test" (APFT) that is not 'one size fits all'.

The new annual requirement for someone assigned to the Ranger Regiment according to is "2 x APFTs (min 60 points in ea. event, scaled by age & gender) IAW Army Regulations". So, at age 17-21, men are required to do the minimum of 53 sit-ups, 42 push-ups, and a 15.54 two-mile run; women are required to do the minimum of 53 sit-ups, 19 push-ups, and a 18:54 two-mile run. See the current "Army Physical Fitness Test Scorecard" for the different physical standards by gender and age group.

If true, this is truly disconcerting news. Read "Proof that standards will be dropped for females entering the 75th Ranger Regiment", March 7, 2016.

Army's Gender Integration Implementation Plan. The U.S. Army's plan is a detailed approach for integrating women into all military occupational specialties (MOSs). The paves the way for female Soldiers to serve in the Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces.

Most Marines Opposed to Women in Combat Units. "A survey of nearly 54,000 members of the Marine Corps found that two out of three male Marines and one out three female Marines were opposed to opening all combat jobs to women." Read more in "How big is opposition to women in combat units among Marines? This report explains.", The Washington Post,  March 10, 2016.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) and Women in Combat

The ban on prohibiting women in combat roles is set to expire in January 2016. Many supporters of fully integrating women in combat roles point to the success of the Cultural Support Teams (CST) utilized by Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Afghanistan. Most were attached to SOF teams conducting Village Stability Operations (VSO) while some were attached to SOF teams conducting night raids. After all, if these small teams of women successfully worked with SOF in combat then why not with conventional armor, artillery, and infantry units? However, using the CSTs in Afghanistan as proof that women should be fully integrating into all combat roles ignores the true role of CSTs to SOF. Their assessment, selection, and training was different and limited (although still tough) and their role was limited as compared to their male SOF colleagues. A  paper by T. Nageen Pegahi provides more light on the topic. Pegahi served as strategic advisor and analyst to Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) from 2013 to 2014. Currently she an assistant professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College. Read "Curb Your Enthusiasm / Skepticism Over Women in SOF", Small Wars Journal, September 22, 2015.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Two Females Graduate from Ranger Course

To the applause of almost everyone (if relying on Internet news stories and Twitter tweets is a reliable measure of opinion) two female Soldiers have graduated from the Army's premier infantry training course. The Ranger School finally admitted female Soldiers to start the training. After months of preparation, a few recycles, and a few different Ranger course sequences spanning April through August two of the women made it through the tough training. Both are West Point graduates and will have the honor of wearing the Ranger Tab through the course of their military careers. One is a Captain MP and the other a Lieutenant Apache helicopter pilot. One of the graduates is a veteran of an Afghan deployment. I suspect their future is bright. It won't be long before the special operations community scoffs these two Rangers up. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that one of them is attempting the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) next. More on that below.

Advocates for women taking a greater role in combat arms of the military will point to these two women as evidence that women can cut it in combat units. The test of time will tell if allowing women into infantry squads and Ranger companies is a good idea. Certainly there is a role for women in combat - this has been proven time and again over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. One need only point out their value in programs such as the Female Engagement Teams or FETs (that supported Marine and Army infantry units) and the Cultural Support Teams or CSTs (that supported special operations forces) to recognize their importance in the fight. The Navy has come out with news that the SEALs will open up their training to females. Demi Moore is vindicated!

Some of the Special Mission Units (SMUs) have integrated women into their training and operations for many years - in fact, many feel that special operations has been in the forefront (in a quiet way) for integrating women into their units. (Learn about "Project Diane" and the OSS on the USASOC website). Women as shooters on a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha? Hmmmm. It probably won't be long before the Army announces the entrance of women into Special Forces units at the combat level. While Ranger training is two (very hard) months, Special Forces training at the entry level is in excess of one year - and depending on the military occupational specialty - almost two years. Once again, time will tell. Now that MG Scotty Miller (heading up the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning) has "led the way" to getting women integrated into Ranger training the spotlight moves onto LTG Ken Tovo (USASOC cdr) and MG Kraft (Special Forces Command) at Fort Bragg.

If a female does attend and complete the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) then she won't be the first. That ground (or camouflage ceiling) was broken years ago - in 1980 (or 1981?). Captain Kathleen Wilder, a military intelligence officer assigned to an Intel position in Special Forces found that there was nothing in the regulation against women attending the Special Forces Officer Course. She pressed Department of the Army to attend (a little Congressional help was instrumental I believe) and was able to attend the Special Forces Officer Course (SFOC). Back then SFOC was different than the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). SFOC was for officers and SFQC was for enlisted. The officer course was way easy compared to SFQC. Wilder's graduation from SFOC changed all of that. Shortly after her graduation the potential SF officers had to go through the training with the enlisted. One of the best things that ever happened to SF!

The Army put on quite a show for the Ranger class graduation. You can watch a one hour long video of a press conference published on on August 21, 2015 by US Army TRADOC.

For me, I take comfort in knowing that I was in the last HARD RANGER CLASS! Desert Legion!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Female Counterinsurgents in Afghanistan

An observer of the Afghan conflict notes that there has been an increased deployment of female counterinsurgents in Afghanistan. She points to the Female Engagement Teams (FETs) that were assigned in the later years of the war. This essay assesses the role of the FETs in changing counterinsurgent practice in Afghanistan. The report, written by Charlotte Fraser, was posted on February 22, 2014 on the E-International Relations website at "The Deployment of Female Counterinsurgents in Afghanistan". (Photo by DVIDS US Army).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Former Eagles Cheerleader Now with US Army

A former Eagles cheerleader, Rachael Washburn, has been a member of the United States Army for a number of years and has completed two deployments to Afghanistan. Her first deployment was as a member of a Cultural Support Team or CST attached to a Special Operations unit in Afghanistan. She has participated in the training and selection of women for the Female Engagement Teams or FETs that deploy to Afghanistan. Her current assignment is as a military intelligence officer. Her story was highlighted in a recent news story. See "Former Eagles Cheerleader now stars for the Army", USA Today, December 19, 2013. (Photo to left by DVIDS during a visit by Rachel to troops overseas).