Women sappers

| December 1, 2012

I guess Ex-PH2 wanted us to bring some balance to the discussion of women in combat because she sent us this NBC News link about two young ladies who completed Sapper Leader Training course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

[West Point grads] [1st Lt. Audrey] Moton at 5’6”, and [2nd Lt. Carley] Turnnidge, barely reaching 5’4”, faced 28 grueling days of physical torture with little sleep or food. But that was only half the challenge. Training alongside 36 larger, more muscular male soldiers, both instinctively felt that as women they had to prove they could hold their own. They did.

Turnnidge, a high school and West Point soccer star, went above and beyond the call. After failing in tactical operations in her first try, remarkably, she took the course twice — 56 straight days without a break. In a training swim, Turnnidge had to drag her exhausted male partner back across the lake. Moton vigorously trained to get in shape before she ever got to the course and believes she and Turnnidge actually motivated the men. “They’d think, ‘Wait, I don’t wanna get beat by a girl.’ Well, then run faster,” she said. “I’m not going to stop.”

I’ve never said women couldn’t do the job, what I’ve said is that if they can meet the same standard as their male peers, more power to them and welcome to the ranks. It seems that these two did meet the standard. What I’m opposed to is the inevitable tipping point that the Army and the other services will reach when the social scientists demand that they allow more women into combat arms than the military can train properly.

It’s like the Obama Administration claiming that they’re going to have more Special Forces soldiers when the candidates who can make the grade aren’t there. When the standard is reduced to make some arbitrary number of graduates, the troops are the ones who will pay the price with their lives. Well, unless we can convince our enemies to reduce their standards, too.

Category: Military issues

Comments (31)

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  1. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Whatever. Just turn the whole damn thing over to SWAN and the ACLU. Oh, and congratulations to West Point’s second same-sex marriage couple and first to be married in the Cadet Chapel! The wedding was earlier today. No word on where Mrs. and Mrs. Happy Couple will be honeymooning.

  2. bobby says:

    Something sticks in my craw.

    I’m 5’4″ … the bottom 5th percentile for height for males in the US. It’s also the 50th percentile for female height in the US.

    Not one gahdammed time will I *ever* get a puff-piece written about me because of my size. It will only be a matter of did I get the job done or not …

    Congratulations on having a vagina, ladies. Here’s your participation trophy.

  3. beretverde says:

    There is a valid reason why its called the “Crapper Tab.”

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    I’ll repeat what I said elsewhere:

    If women don’t truly want it, they won’t ask for it. So what’s the problem?

    All that squawking and the legal battle is baloney, and you guys know it. It’s a front for “I can’t pass the regular tests so I want SPECIAL treatment” and nothing else.

    When I see women in iron man triathlons, marathons, body building and power lifting and gymnastics, all of which require a lot of physical strength, I have no sympathy for the whiners.

    I will never argue that standards are standards and if people want those jobs, then they should be expected to pass STANDARD tests. Nor do I think that standards should be lowered to accomodate those who can’t meet the requirements, just because they’re girls.

    I might have been able to meet the requirements when I was in my 20s, because I was busy outside of my Navy job, but I couldn’t do it now and I know it. And anyone who wants to go into the kind of high-level physical stress that these positions require should be expected to measure up to the requirements, not have them lowered.

    So I say ‘kudos’ to those two ladies for asking for no quarter and meeting the standards, which shows that they do NOT have to be lowered.

  5. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @5 Link. Uh-oh. I think I may be in for it now. Later.

  6. DaveO says:

    When these two ladies hit their mid-30s and can continue this level of physical accomplishment, call me.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    The point is that women were required to meet the same standards as men during World War II, as is documented in the requirements for the WASP (Women Army Service Pilots) who did an enormous job of flying military transport planes during the war and were expected to meet the same standards as men.


    Not to mention the women mechanics, cooks, photo interpreters, and all the other occupations that men served in during WWII.

    So let’s just get over the idea that standards have to be lowered just because a bunch of whiny girls can’t pass them. My reponse to that whining (and law suits) is ‘tough bananas, toots!’

    Hmmm, now that gives me an idea.

  8. George says:

    Whats going on in the Marines is classic. Two split tails signed up for the infantry officer’s course. One quit in a matter of days – the other then next day.

    So….. now they just show up on the job with the MOS – and no training.

    Because,they are WOMEN!

    Who needs training. Maybe they can break some new ground with a homosexual company.

    I am SOOO glad I have already put my time in and am too old to be called up.

  9. AndyN says:

    So, the course you have to pass to earn the “coveted” Sapper tab is in so little demand that a 2nd Lt can fail out and get a slot to turn around and try it again. I’m sure that’s the way it works for the boys too. mhmm

  10. PALADIN says:

    wellllllllllll , i got mixed emotions on this.
    They did acheive what a lot of men could’nt so they must have had some “hang” to get it done.
    I know sapper school in the C.A. is tough, and it took everything i had to make it.
    As long as the standards are’nt lowered thats the main thing.

    But there are many other things in performing as a sapper that may or may not impede a woman.
    Time will tell i guess.
    And defintely there MUST NOT BE ANY FAVORTISM , if you flunk out, you should be gone. Period.
    I can see the Liberal turds in the Puzzle Palace tweeking this though, and making it a course with lowered standards.
    Only a matter of time before Valerie Jarret and Medusa Pelosi see a chance to social engineer this course and most others.

  11. Roger in Republic says:

    The distaff side wants equality, fine let them have it. There is a reason that promotions come faster in the combat arms, the enemy is also armed. If women want an equal chance for promotion then they must accept possible negative outcomes that accrue to combat. My experience with woman in the service is that only one in ten really want to do the hard work. When the night is dark and the waves are breaking over the seawall they tend to find some excuse not to answer the SAR alarm. I served with a few who would do the grunt work and get their hands dirty but most of them pulled the GIRL CARD because “This is too hard”. If they can hack it, fine, If not, Adios. My nephew is a 1/st LT with the 101 st airborne. He graduated Ranger school before reporting to Campbell. He is a very sharp young officer and will go far. His wife is a 2/LT in AIS and she will probably make Major before he does. He is deployed and will have a combat command punch on his ticket. She may deploy but at divisional level rather than at the pointy end of the spear. Heck, she may even make 0-7. This blather is not about promotion opportunity, its about feminism and progressivism.

  12. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    I served in the mid ’70s so this was never a topic of discussion. I’ve mentioned before, there were only two BAMS who could hang with the guys, L/Cpl McSomething at th NCO Academy and 2nd Lt. Gorgeous who was some kinda visiting S-something officer. I knew some BAMs who were very good at their jobs, within their MOSsbut couldn’t hang with the guys. Until they can, forget it.

  13. FNG says:

    I previously believed that most women that wanted these “hooah” schools just wanted it to future their careers, and could not hang with their male counterparts. Then, I met one LT, a west pointer, who was a physical specimen. She was 170 lbs and ran marathons to win. She could out ruck and out run most men. I firmly believe that she, and women like her, could EARN a Ranger tab. Se can exceed the male standard. She is literally the only female soldier that I have met who can perform this way, but I know she is not alone. If she is graded to the male standard she will pass, and that is how it should be. There should not be a male/female scale, but a Ranger scale. She has proven herself as a good LT and a good leader. If she can perform give her the chance.

  14. Beretverde says:

    Today’s kumbaya Army came up with a school to award a tab because many want one, and it would be nice to be more “inclusive.” So they came up with Sapper School. A good school but not in the arena of SF or Ranger. But wait, it is a tab… just like Ranger and SF, so that will be nice. Kind of like Air Assault school “the hardest ten days in the Army” (really?)… another inclusive badge (kumbaya). So Sapper allows women and a tab is awarded so now women can be just like men. History shows that? Really? I just watched a little football this Saturday and did not see one women in any game. Why is that? Elitism, sexism? No, it is simply the physical differences. Sure a women has played college football, but it was not on the high playing level of division one. I use football as an example compared to the Army. Sapper School is not Division one!
    I never met a women who could graduate from Ranger or SF School. No matter how “hard core” she was, or even the ones that beat me in the triathlons (“sprint distance”) that I completed in. Days nineteen, twenty, twenty one etc… were the killers in the “elite tab schools.” A classmate going through SF school with me was a former linebacker from Colorado St. Man could that guy ruck! Unbelievable. A real speed demon! Unfortunately he was yanked mid-way because he could not pass his interim security clearance.
    I am going to get a round or two on this…but unless you really have done it… you have no idea!

  15. PFDRbrendan says:

    I was watching the “Surviving the Cut: Sapper school” with my fellow Ranger tabbed buddy at my house before we deployed. In between uncontrollable fits of laughter we noticed that there was a female who was going through who did pass. It did not seem so surprising to us because we knew that the school was not Ranger school.
    This was a week or so after I went to the “Hardest 10 days in the Army” (I can’t type that with a strait face). What was not surprising was that out of the six or so females in the class, only two passed the final 12 mile ruck march. What was surprising, however, was one of the Air Assault Sergeants, who was female, speedily keeping pace on the 12 mile finishing around the same time I did. I feel safe to say that if there were more hard charging females in the Army who could meet and exceed the standard that is necessary for good Soldiers to be an asset to the battlefield, I would not mind trading them for a few of the fat slackers that plague the ranks of the Infantry.

  16. Ex-PH2 says:

    Okay, if all the snorting and pawing the ground is over and done with, there is something you GUYS should be thinking about. It has to do with something that has been labeled “youth bulge”, not a reference to over-consumption of pizza and beer, but an excessive rise in the population demographic of men between 16 and 30.

    “According to Heinsohn, who has proposed youth bulge theory in its most generalized form, a youth bulge occurs when 30 to 40 percent of the males of a nation belong to the “fighting age” cohorts from 15 to 29 years of age. It will follow periods with total fertility rates as high as 4–8 children per woman with a 15–29-year delay.” – source Wiki.

    The Malthusian theory of warfare provides a direct correlation between population growth and decreasing resources.

    The “youth bulge” theory, on the other hand, focuses on a disparity between non-inheriting, ‘excess’ young males and available social positions within the existing social system of division of labour.

    Contributors to the development of youth bulge theory include French sociologist Gaston Bouthoul, U.S. sociologist Jack A. Goldstone, U.S. political scientist Gary Fuller,and German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn.

    Samuel Huntington has modified his Clash of Civilizations theory by using youth bulge theory as its foundation:

    “I don’t think Islam is any more violent than any other religions, and I suspect if you added it all up, more people have been slaughtered by Christians over the centuries than by Muslims. But the key factor is the demographic factor. Generally speaking, the people who go out and kill other people are males between the ages of 16 and 30. During the 1960s, 70s and 80s there were high birth rates in the Muslim world, and this has given rise to a huge youth bulge.”

    Since respectable positions cannot be increased at the same speed as food, textbooks and vaccines, many “angry young men” find themselves in a situation that tends to escalate their adolescent anger into violence. They are:

    1.Demographically superfluous,
    2.Might be out of work or stuck in a menial job, and
    3.Often have no access to a legal sex life before a career can earn them enough to provide for a family.

    The combination of these stress factors according to Heinsohn usually heads for one of six different exits:
    1.Emigration (“non-violent colonization”)
    2.Violent Crime
    3.Rebellion or putsch
    4.Civil war and/or revolution
    5.Genocide (to take over the positions of the slaughtered)
    6.Conquest (violent colonization, frequently including genocide abroad) — source Wiki

    Barring women from participation as infantry combatants enhances the likelihood that the younger surviving and returning men, regardless of post-war physical condition, will have less competition for securing a mate and reproducing. Including women in the field as armed combatants reduces that likelihood by a considerable amount, especially because the age range of field infantry engaging in combat is mostly below 45.

    Historically, the fate of non-combatant women in a war zone has been everything from being seized and sold as slaves (the abduction of the Sabine women by the Romans in 750 BC; The Trojan Women by Euripides) to rape and death (Taliban in Afghanistan).

    There is no argument that the standards for elite training should NOT be lowered to accomodate anyone who is unable to meet them. However, denying entry to those women volunteers who can and do meet the standards in place now is wasting a resource in favor of keeping the girls out of the treehouse. It’s the same thing as saying that Jackie Robinson should never have been allowed to play in the major leagues.

  17. Beretverde says:

    “It’s the same thing as saying that Jackie Robinson should never have been allowed to play in the major leagues.”


    Then major League Baseball’s spring training needs to be opened to women as well for tryouts!
    Why isn’t spring training opened up for women… the same reason for SF and Ranger!

  18. Ex-PH2 says:

    So, BV, prejudice doesn’t enter into it one tiny little bit, eh?

    Or are you forgetting that the rather hokey movie “A League of Their Own” was actually based on the fact that those women were pro baseball players and were asked to step in and play ball in place of the men’s league players who were off in the various war theaters during World War II? Without those ladies stepping in, there was the high probability that baseball season was over for the duration. Here’s a link to that story, about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League:


    And not so very long ago, when the NBA players went on strike, my mother, who liked watching basketball on TV, was drawn into the women’s NBA games because that was the only pro basketball available on TV. Her response to it was “Those girls play the game the way it should be played.”

    If you think women can’t play hockey as well as men, you need to get to the rink for the pickup games. Everyone is welcome, and no one cares about anything except whether or not you can skate and move the puck. Everyone is dressed alike, so how can you tell who’s a guy and who’s a girl?

    If you still think it is not about prejudice, it took until the late 1970s for women to get professional jockey licenses at the racetracks, even though women are frequently better riders than men. This was because the male jockeys didn’t want women competing for the 10 percent cut that goes to a winning jockey or getting the day money for riding. Now it’s not such a big deal. And the jockey who invented the modern jockey “seat” was Earl Sande, a black jockey who shortened his stirrups so much that it put him directly over the horse’s withers, allowing the horse to run faster than those ridden by long-stirrup riders. The short-stirrup seat was labeled “monkey on a stick”, but eventually became the accepted way to get a horse to the finish line ahead of the pack.

    Jackie Robinson was a pro ball player in the Negro Baseball League, which was formed when baseball became segregated in 1889. Before that, black baseball players were part of pro baseball. When Branch Rickey asked Robinson in 1947 to join the Brooklyn Dodgers, the immediate public reaction was “It’s going to ruin baseball”. Same reaction for football and basketball.

    Still think it isn’t about prejudice? I can bring up more examples.

    I think if women ball players WANTED to show up for spring training at major league tryouts, they’d do so. Sports, like the military, are not an all-boys club.

    But that’s an idea. I think I’ll call the Cubs’ office (if they’re open) and find out if they’d give women players a shot. They might as well. The Cubbies can’t seem to get themselves out of the tank. Yes, I’m a north-sider.

    Thanks for the idea!

  19. Ex-PH2 says:

    And for the record, there is now a female umpire in pro football. Bet you can’t tell who it is when the game’s on.

  20. Hondo says:

    Ex-PH2: I think you missed BV’s point in comment 18. I’m pretty sure he was being satirical. Spring training IS open to women if they’re good enough. Women have competed at the minor-league level.

    Pro sports very obviously do not care about gender. They care about physical ability. Should a female pitcher show up who can consistently do the job – or a catcher, 1st baseman, etc . . . . , they’ll get a tryout.

    And, while there is indeed a female umpire in pro football, I don’t believe there are any female players. Nor do I expect to see any any time soon.

    My point? Pro sports are as close to a pure physical meritocracy as you will find – period. And you find exceedingly few females competing on equal terms with males in the vast majority of pro sports. Something to do with genetics and innate physical gener differences, I think.

    Certain military specialties have similar physical requirements. Those specialties have those requirements for a good reason – survival in combat. They are standards that the vast majority of males cannot meet. And lowering those physical standards for political reasons to achieve “gender equality” is a prescription for disaster.

  21. Ex-PH2 says:

    Here’s a link to the American Women’s Baseball organization:


  22. Frank says:

    It shouldn’t be about “getting beat by a girl”, rather, it should be all about being an asset to one another in a combat situation – there’s no room for competition there.

  23. Ex-PH2 says:

    Point taken, Hondo, which is why asking the Cubs if they’ll open spring training to women ball players might be a good idea. It’s also the reason I posted the AWBB link. The women still play and they are quite dedicaated.

    I think you will agree that dedication and focus are the parameters that count the highest, BACKED UP by physical ability.

    And to make it clear that I do my research on these matters at hand, here is a link to the Independent Women’s Football League, an organization of women’s full contact football teams.


  24. Ex-PH2 says:

    What Frank said…. spot on!

  25. Hondo says:

    Ex-PH2: not suggesting you don’t do your homework, lass. But your examples in general seem to be gender-segregated leagues where women are competing in the same sports as men – but against other women.

    In some sports, the physical gender differences are indeed irrelevant. Archery, shooting, and (perhaps) golf come to mind, and there are probably others as well. However, in other sports the gender differences are absolutely relevant – particularly when you’re already dealing with the top fraction of 1% of the male population in terms of physical capabilities. It’s why you just don’t see female athletes in MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL (if they ever play again)/pro soccer/track and field/etc . . . . It’s also why marathons and triathlons have male and female “scorecards”, plus an overall.

    For most military occupations – as is the case in most civilian occupations – the gender differences probably don’t matter anywhere near as much as do intellect/focus/willpower. But in a few specialties, physical qualifications are critical – just like they are in a select few civilian occupations, like pro sports. Denying that fact is denying reality.

    I have no question that a very select few women could “hack it” in the toughest military specialties. But I fear that politics will come into play, and “equality” will be forced – basic biology be damned – with disastrous results.

  26. Ex-PH2 says:

    Hondo, I agree that physical qualifications are critical, and I’ve said so several times heretofore, that the standards should NOT be lowered for the elite training requirements. This kind of training is one where the playing field definitely should not be leveled for anyone, male or female.

    Is it possible to keep the politics out of it? In the current PC atmosphere, maybe, maybe not. That depends on the people at the top, doesn’t it?

    BV was being satirical? How did I miss that? I thought he meant it. Sorry, BV.

  27. Beretverde says:

    Ph2- Satire is hard to read sometimes! So is a map!

  28. Just Plain Jason says:

    Beretverde I was going to say something really mean to you but you know it is 1 AM and you have been obsessing about this for over 3 days. Denny’s breakfast is in five hours give it a rest.

  29. Just Plain Jason says:

    Oh and in discussions like this I have taken the thought of…
    1) Ain’t mine…
    2) The horse is so fucking dead…Neitzche is completely insane.

  30. Ex-PH2 says:

    BV,I was being nice. Don’t start.