Female Rangers: An Insider Speaks on the Record


This essay was published yesterday on Breach Bang Clear.


You will recall the two recent female Ranger School graduates. Not long ago I published an essay about them and the allegations of lowered standards. I argued that evidence shows they attained THE school standards, not adjusted or lowered standards. I also said people claiming they were given special treatment had no facts, and were only offering “I don’t have any proof but I heard about it from someone so I know it’s true” to substantiate their argument. I ended my essay with,

“Lieutenant Haver and Captain Griest, congratulations. I hope to shake your hands someday. I have nothing but respect for your drive, dedication, and effort. Well done, Rangers.”

I took a ton of crap for my stance. Some readers correctly pointed out I’m not a Ranger (which I stated at the beginning of my essay) and had no understanding of how Ranger School works (also true). Several people accused the Ranger School instructors of being boot-licking career chasers who don’t have enough integrity to admit they were ordered to lower standards, and berated me for not acknowledging it. Some readers criticized my use of photos of Rangers at Normandy and in Somalia, saying there is no connection whatsoever between the school and Ranger Regiment. As one reader put it, because I don’t have firsthand knowledge of Ranger School I was out of my lane to talk about this subject.

Fair enough. So instead of listening to me, how about we hear from someone smack-dab in the middle of the female Ranger lane?

I’ve been around the military a long time, and I know people. One of those people served with me in Afghanistan. He’s now out of the regular Army, but his wife is an Army civilian. Through my friend and his wife I was connected to someone who knows all about Ranger School, all about the female Rangers, and everything that happened behind the scenes. You should probably listen to this other soldier’s opinion, because he knows facts. Not theories, not maybes, but actual facts.

I’d like to introduce you to Sergeant Major Colin Boley. SGM Boley served fifteen years in the Ranger Regiment, from 1999 to 2014, and deployed with the Regiment fifteen times. He was awarded a Silver Star and multiple Bronze Stars for valor in combat. He also happens to be the Operations Sergeant Major of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, which runs Ranger School.


SGM Boley won the Best Ranger Competition and served in every leadership position up to Operations Sergeant Major within the Special Operations community. He’s been the Brigade Ops Sergeant Major for eighteen months. Because of this position he knows all about how females were integrated into Ranger School, how they performed, what standard they and every other student were held to, and whether or not they graduated fair and square.

Sergeant Major Boley is far from a boot-licking career chaser. He’s got his twenty, plans on retiring in a few years, and has no plans on leaving his current assignment before retirement. “Since there’s no such thing as an E-10,” he said, “I’m not concerned with being promoted.” He has what I call a magical superpower: he can say or do what he wants, drop his papers and walk whenever he feels like it, and has no reason to hold back the truth.

It’s worth noting that SGM Boley originally didn’t like the idea of females attending Ranger School. In fact, when he first heard about the plan to allow females into class 6-15, he “thought the idea would die”. “Over the last fifteen or twenty years, there have been several attempts to get females into Ranger School,” he said. “All the previous plans were shelved. I thought the same thing would happen this time.”

This time, obviously, the idea didn’t die. SGM Boley was involved in every phase of planning for the first female Ranger students, and eventually realized it was going to happen. Even though he personally opposed the plan, he said, “It’s not my job to agree or disagree, it’s my job to make sure the Ranger School standards are upheld.” And according to SGM Boley, they were. “The females attained the same standards as the males, which are the same standards that have been in place at least since I got here a year and a half ago, and have probably been in place for a lot longer than that.”

I’m going to list a few accusations/conspiracy theories about the females at Ranger School, and let SGM Boley respond.

The females were given unfair prior training to prepare for Ranger School.

Sergeant Major Boley thinks that’s a pretty stupid accusation. “Everyone who goes to Ranger School should get extra training before they show up,” he says. “Before I went to school my team and squad leaders in the Regiment gave me extra training in land navigation and everything else. There are soldiers in the Regiment who get two years of training and preparation before going to school. The females trained for the course, but never observed the training before starting the school. Some people are saying they practiced on the Darby Queen [obstacle course] before their class started. As far as I know they didn’t, but if they did, who gives a shit? The Darby Queen isn’t a drop event anyway, and anyone can go through Darby Queen if they get prior permission through land requests. If a soldier arrives at Fort Benning to attempt the Ranger Course and doesn’t have prior trainup, his leadership failed.”

Bottom line? “Did the females get extra trainup? Yes,” SGM Boley says. “Did they get unfair trainup? No.”

The standards were lowered so the females could pass.

SGM Boley was emphatic about Ranger School standards being maintained. He clearly stated nobody was ever ordered to lower standards for the females, and contrary to a really stupid article in People Magazine, no General ever said, “A woman will graduate Ranger School.” Despite suggestions that the females should only have to pass female PT standards, the decision was made early on to hold them to Ranger standards because, as SGM Boley says, “the Ranger standard is the only standard.”

SGM Boley didn’t expect any females to make it. He thought, and still thinks, female Ranger students should have gone through a pipeline before Ranger School: infantry basic, infantry Advanced Individual Training, and then Ranger. He didn’t think it made sense to send females without prior infantry training, and unlike others, he wasn’t sure a female would even make it through RAP Week (Ranger Assessment Phase, a difficult week of physical events at the beginning of the school). But the two female graduates made it through the entire course, upholding the same standards as every other graduate.

A General walked patrols with the females to make sure they passed.

Major General Scott Miller did indeed walk a patrol while the females were at Ranger School, and spoke at their graduation. “Major General Miller was celebrating his thirtieth anniversary of attending Ranger School,” Sergeant Major Boley said. “He was scheduled to walk the patrol and speak at graduation months before we knew females were going to be in the course. As the Operations Sergeant Major, I have to know months in advance if a VIP is coming. We knew MG Miller was coming, long before we knew females were coming.”

SGM Boley also says General Miller intentionally stayed away from the females. “He didn’t go to any event with a female student. He made sure not to, in order to avoid accusations that he was influencing anything. He probably never saw a female. And he definitely didn’t ‘grade their patrols’ like some people have been saying. He’s not an RI [Ranger Instructor], so he’s not authorized or certified to grade their patrols.”

“President Obama was scheduled to attend their graduation! That proves the females were going to graduate no matter what!”

Even though it was a phone interview, I could almost hear Sergeant Major Boley roll his eyes in disgust when I mentioned that particular conspiracy theory. “The President was never scheduled to come to the graduation if a female was to graduate,” he said. “I’m the Operations Sergeant Major and would have to know if the President is coming. A presidential visit is a big deal, and takes a lot of preparation. If he had planned on being there, I would have known about it. That story is completely false.”

This accusation seems to piss Sergeant Major Boley off more than most others, probably because it was created out of thin air, with absolutely no basis in reality, and won’t go away. SGM Boley is obviously getting tired of all the conspiracies. “I’ve tried talking sense to people who say things like that,” he says, “and it never works. There are guys who won’t believe the facts, no matter what. I’ve seen comments online like, ‘Even if there’s an investigation and all the training records say the females made it, I still won’t believe it because I know the Army is lying.’ So what’s the point of even trying to convince them? I know what happened, and I know they made it.”

The females were offered two Day 1 Recycles, which males are almost never given.

According to some critics, the two female Rangers who graduated were given two chances to start over, which males wouldn’t have received without extraordinary circumstances. “That’s ridiculous,” SGM Boley said. “Just this year we’ve had more than twenty males take Day 1 Recycles. And that’s just the ones who accepted the offer. We’ve offered Day 1 Recycles to way more soldiers than that. When a soldier doesn’t make it through a training phase, a board looks at all the factors involved and decides whether or not to give them the opportunity to start the course over. If the board believes in the soldier, thinks he’s doing his best and is physically and mentally able to succeed, he gets the chance to start over.”

This isn’t new. When Sergeant Major Boley went to Ranger School in 1997, he met a student who had been in the course almost 300 days (the course lasts 62 days if the student passes everything first try). “That guy had to have been given several chances,” SGM Boley says. “And even in the females’ class males were given the same chances. Some male students started with the females in class 6-15, and were still in the school after the females graduated with class 8-15. Maybe those males have graduated by now, but they were still there long after the females graduated. They got extra chances too. The females didn’t get any opportunities a male didn’t get.”

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/female-rangers-an-insider-speaks-on-the-record/

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


12 Responses to “Female Rangers: An Insider Speaks on the Record”

  1. 1 Priscilla

    Thank you, Chris, for exposing the false narrative/conspiracy theories promulgated by the mainstream media, e.g., People Magazine, vis a vis the females at Ranger School. And kudos to the two ladies, theirs is a truly incredible acheivement. It’s good to know the badass woman meme prevalent on the internet has some basis in reality.

    • 2 Jeff

      Fucking female. Figures you buy the bs. I served in the combat arms and watched men carry womens ruck sacks in addition to their own during simple air assault school. No women can meet men in these standards its simple physiology. So continu6dreaming of unicorns cupcakes and rainbows. Meanwhile we have a weakened fighting force due to PC bullshit.

      • 3 Priscilla

        impossible to believe:
        “an almost incredible tale of triumph and tragedy”
        synonyms: unbelievable · beyond belief · hard to believe ·

        • 4 Priscilla

          the use of irony to mock or convey contempt:
          Not that I have contempt for Mr. Hernandez’s opinion. I just disagree.

          • Which part do you disagree with?

          • 6 Priscilla

            I was reading this:
            “Defense Secretary James Mattis seems to have embarked on a clean sweep-down of the Navy, a fighting force capable of great things but institutionally underfunded, operationally overextended and—during the Obama administration—fixated on policies that stressed gender integration and other progressive goals at the expense of basic seamanship. Obama administration Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’s efforts to bend 240 years of naval tradition to contemporary social-justice goals were enormously disruptive to an institution heavily dependent on cultural continuity. His insistence that women be integrated into Marine Corps infantry units augurs tragic consequences (unless the Trump administration reverses the policy).”
            I thought of this blog, decided to review and saw that my comment had been misconstrued. Women are not physical badasses and I have been weary of that meme for a long time.

  2. 7 RandyGC

    Thanks Chris.

    Having witnessed manipulation of things like standards, the assignment process etc. to achieve politically driven goals (in spite of any impact on operational goals), some of the stories on this issue seem plausible, particularly to an Airedale like me with only an outsider’s observations of the Ranger system in the 80s.

    But I’m going to think long and hard, and need some pretty solid evidence before I question the credibility (let alone integrity!) of someone with SGM Boley’s resume.

    And an input on a question over on the BBC thread, the AF Ranger School grads I knew on active duty were referred to as “PJs” or “Combat Controllers” 😉

  3. 8 Former Enlisted

    I’d like to leave my opinion about the female graduates as well, and I hope the author of my artricle will take into consideration.


    Extra Training
    Sergeant Major Boley thinks that’s a pretty stupid accusation. “Everyone who goes to Ranger School should get extra training before they show up,”

    Now while another poster said they wouldn’t question the credibility or integrity of an E9, I have no problem doing so. Especially in this situation, where his statement is incredibly misleading. Specifically:

    “Everyone who goes to Ranger School should get extra training before they show up”

    Of course everyone should, thats what a good unit would do. But receving things like extra training is entirely dependant on operation tempo, unit leadershiper etc. What is troubling is that the women entering the course received 3 months of dedicated training to prepare them. This training replaced their regular work duties, and is NOT something anyone entering the course received but them.

    This is what constitutes sepcial treatment, they received treatment that any other trainee would not. SGM comments regarding that are misleading at worst, and blatantly dishonest at most.


    Toxic Environment and Lowerd Standards
    “A General walked patrols with the females to make sure they passed.”

    There are repeated grumblings about lowered standards, three day-1 recycles, and special treatment. This was going to be a sensitive subject regardless if these women passed or failed, yet theres a General walking around (a huge pressure for any of the instructor cadre). POTUS was going to attend the ceremony.

    The Army should have done everything they could have to at least maintain an impartial position on this, yet their actions have allowed doubt to creep in on the results. Furthermore, important documents proving standards were maintained were shredded, while others are being kept under wraps.

    If the government and military had a clean track record of accountability, these grumblings could be written off. Those criticising murky circumstances could be branded “sexist” or “mysogynist”, however that is not the reputation the government has.

    In the 1990s the US Navy graduated their first female fighter pilots. Standards were lowered, preferential treatment was doled, careers were crushed to push these grads through. Ultimately a young women died, whisteblowers were blacklisted, and coverups were had.

    Please read this article. Remember the track record the service has with pushing political agendas, and please see that the circumstances surrounding these brave womens accomplishements should be questioned, due to the actions of the armed services in the past and present.

    Article regarding first US Navy female fighter pilots

    • Both of those points were addressed. General Miller walked a patrol for the 30 year anniversary of graduating Ranger school, and the president was not scheduled to attend the graduation.

      “’The President was never scheduled to come to the graduation if a female was to graduate,” [Boley] said. ‘I’m the Operations Sergeant Major and would have to know if the President is coming. A presidential visit is a big deal, and takes a lot of preparation. If he had planned on being there, I would have known about it. That story is completely false.’”

      • 10 JS

        Oh you mean like when Bush showed up in Iraq and even the Whitehouse didn’t know. You would have never known if the POTUS was coming. We had Clinton and Bush show up to our units unannounced. The standards were changed and or lowered for the females they always are. E-1 – O-9 wouldn’t say that they were especially those in Training Bat. Why shred the training paperwork and not give up the green cards. 3 months of special training! I didn’t get that before SFAS or SERE. Then there is the 3rd recycle that message don’t get that the Major got. Man Up for God sake and be truthful to us and yourself. Hell there’s a picture of their class conducting a water crossing. The males in frame all have there weapons but the Female in the water doesn’t. Little things like that start adding up to BS.F

  4. 11 James W. Cotter

    Chris, I disagree. I’m a former enlisted man (5th Special Forces 1971 -73, 11B, 12B4S). After 4 years as a civilian, I went to Ranger School as an GA Tech ROTC cadet. I’m also Airborne, Air Assault and a Senior Army Aviator. Tours from Alaska to Honduras, from the DMZ in Korea to the Euphrates River in Iraq flying Medevac with the 101st.

    When the POTUS tells the military Chiefs of Staffs that women WILL be allowed into all military MOS’s or Commander’s will have to tell him why not! He has put everyone in the Chain of Command on notice and woe to him that does not comply.

    When I went to Ranger School, I had zero training to prepare me, No ARNG Warrior Training Center Pre-Ranger Course. I was in good condition. I ran and worked out 5 days a week anyway, but I started 6 months early and added more miles, rucksack marches in the heat of the day, running the stairs at the stadium, adding a third set , increasing weight and reps to my workout.

    Examples of favoritism for females as compared to my experience in 1977.
    1. If you failed the PT test on day 1, you were on “the next thing smoking” on your way back to “Fort Living Room”.
    2. If you couldn’t make it physically, mentally or emotionally anytime during the 3 weeks of Phase 1, there was no “RAP” week. You were on “the next thing smokin”.
    3. During the first couple of weeks, we did daily PT at 4:30 am, followed by a 3 to 5 mile run, followed by the Confidence Course. The first event was the pull-up bar, You had to do 10 “dead-hang” pull-ups plus one for “the BIg Ranger in the Sky”. Ten, not six. If you failed to do all the obstacles, you could find yourself “boarded” and yes, “on the next thing smokin”. Seeing the pattern?
    4. I saw pictures of the females doing the Darby Queen obstacle course. One was on the top of a wall, reaching back to help her partner get over the obstacle. The Darby Queen was an individual event in 1977. Making it a “team” event allows the “weak links” to get through the system. We all know how strong a chain is, right? Who and when was that decided?
    5. Female Drill Instructors were assigned to observe the women’s training to ensure their fair treatment. Public Affairs people and photographers followed them everywhere. No pressure on the Ranger Instructors there, right!
    6. Failing Phase 1 twice. Yeah, blame the unit that allowed you to go. Right SGM Boley. So PC of you.
    7. Stats – 19 women started Class 06-15. 11 quit or failed to meet standards during RAP week. That’s 58% failure in one week. What was the failure rate for the men after one week? 8 women continued and all 8 failed to successfully complete Phase 1. That’s 100% failure rate for 19 physically fit, mentally tough, highly motivated women after 3 weeks of a 9 week course. What was the failure rate for men?
    All 8 women were offered a chance to start over with Class 07-15. 6 quit. I believe only 2 accepted. Correct me if I am wrong. That’s 89.5% failure rate for women who started Class 06-15. The women who continued on with Class 07-15 failed Phase 1 again. That’s 100% failure. Again! ‘Nuff said!

    Reality check – The best female golfer in the world .ie. LPGA champ, was allowed to compete at the Augusta Open, but had to tee off from the men’s tee. She failed to qualify. Over 20 male golfers did qualify.

    A female football player was allowed to try-out as a kicker in the NFL. She kicked the ball 40 yards. Males routinely kick the ball more than 70 yards.

    A UH-1 Medevac crew in Honduras crashed and burned because they decided to follow a mountain road up to to the 7,000 ft summit of the “TACAN site” at night despite low clouds which had prevented the patient from being evacuated by vehicle. They became confused and turned into the mountain and crashed and died. That mission should have been turned down because of weather. I believe they felt pressure because they were the first “All Women” Medevac crew.

    When your sex is a factor in you getting opportunities as a police officer, fireman, military pilot, etc., people will die. Women will be promoted quickly to get them off the street and out of the unit.

    Chris I respect you and SGM Boley, but my 20 years as a Green Beret, Army Ranger and Medevac Pilot have shown me you are wrong. Well meaning, trying to be fair, but still wrong. I believe it was Gen Marshall who said (paraphrased) that when soldiers cannot meet our standards, we should thank them for their effort and send them home. No PC BS there. Thanks for letting me share my experiences.

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