The long tabbers are whining about standards again. I guess this is an improvement on whining about the SFAB beret being too close a shade of green. https://www.cbs17.com/news/changes-to-green-beret-course-draw-scrutiny-as-troops-are-tested-in-nc-woods/
The truth is, standards change over time. I was unlucky enough to get hurt at Airborne school on my second jump a few years before 9/11 happened. At that time the attitude of Sergeants Airborne (aka “Black Hats”) was that Airborne school was a weed out course, only the most dedicated, physically fit, and brave deserved the right to earn silver wings. Nine years after that experience, I went back to Airborne school, and had an entirely different experience, as the school had changed from “weed out” to “train up.” The “War on Terror” was in full swing, and Airborne school was no longer to make “elite paratroopers” it was to get people qualified so they could fill the ranks of the 82d Airborne Division, 4/25th Infantry, Ranger Regiment, SF Groups, and 173rd Airborne Brigade with the people they needed to deploy. Any “make people elite” attitude was right gone, their job was to train people to fill the units that were constantly rotating through theater.
Ironically, the “make people elite, weed out the undesirables” attitude transferred over to Ranger school (or never left, there have always been badge protectors). During and after “The Surge” Ranger school was, as one former Company commander at that time said, “Out of Control.” This was before women were allowed to attend, so all of the instructors were guys who were burnt out on deploying and “needed to take a knee” did so at Ranger school and some of them added a “personal touch” of sadism. One Company commander (now much senior in rank, and pending retirement) commented that he had to personally keep a roster so that his most toxic RIs wouldn’t be walking, or entire platoons would be so exhausted the failure rate would skyrocket. Graduation rates fluctuated wildly, often reflecting how functional or dysfunctional the Ranger Instructors (“RIs”) were at any given time. Because there was a war on, there was no compunction about sending people to units to fill slots, with or without a tab. So keep the standards high, kick ’em out to the force, was the game. Luckily I managed to survive long enough to earn the short tab, so I didn’t have to repeat that developmental training event.
Then, the Army decided that the Expert Infantryman’s Badge (EIB) had become all about “rote memorization” rather than “successful outcomes.” So the “EIB 2000” standards were implemented (and the old guard whined and pissed and moaned about how standards had fallen and it would get people killed, blah de flippen blah). So when I tested, as long as I successfully completed the task I was a “go” rather than ensuring every single step was conducted properly in order. So I didn’t get washed out for lifting the feed tray cover before locking the cocking handle to the rear on a machine gun lane, lucky me. I thankfully earned the EIB (otherwise you keep trying to earn it until you do).
So now SF is getting some senior leader love because the people who ran the training weren’t producing enough of the correct product. The Generals and Colonels that run the SF community need bodies in their formations. The NCOs running things at the school house weren’t producing. The leadership stepped in, and made sure they were getting what they needed, and the NCOs got to whining that it was “lowering the standards” and the usual platitudes given by people who should quietly fade away into the sunset rather than pretend they are in any way still opeationally relevant.
You’ll still find people who say “the badge” or “the tab” used to mean something. Yes, it meant that someone earned it by meeting the standards of the time they were in. There are people who were awarded the Ranger tab who never did a day’s worth of Ranger training (one of them was the Ranger Training Brigade Commander). There are people who were “book tabbies” who completed the training requirements to earn the SF Tab through correspondence course (yes, that used to be a thing). Standards change, and the population of people we have to draw into the military also changes. The millennial generation isn’t all that bad once you get them acculturated to Army life. Of course the “millenial generation” is in their mid to late 30s now, so whatever generation came after the millenial generation isn’t that bad either, especially now that we have Soldiers who were born after 9/11.
So my point is…if you hang around long enough you’ll see things change. And you can either change with it, or get left behind. When the Army was told “full gender integration” it went out and handpicked the absolute best females available and sent them to Ranger school, and kept sending them until they could hold a press conference celebrating the fact that women had earned the short tab. Eventually there will be a female Long Tabber, the operational demand for them is higher than you think.
And it’s happening all over: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9157005/sas-first-woman-mum-afghan-hero/ and https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/best-shooter-in-canadas-military-has-a-long-red-ponytail. There are a lot of advantages in having highly trained females available to dismiss them out of hand. A man and a woman can go places and blend in where two or three men can not, because it is easier to accept a man and a woman together as it is “normal.” It is much easier for a female to get information out of female civilians, because of social norms. Women are every bit as devious, hard, and cold an any man (some even more so) but social expectations allow them access and communication streams men can rarely tap into.
Don’t get me wrong, not every woman can make it in the military. It is also true that not every man can make it in the military. And yes there will always be more men who can make it than women who can make it until some breakthrough in technology allows women to overcome their lower strength, weaker bones, and higher amounts of body fat. Biology is a bitch, and the advantages women bring to units come with the detriment that they are encased in that biology, and sometimes the men have to pick up the slack. Life isn’t fair, military service is even less fair than regular life.
And the Commanders out there, at all levels, need bodies in their formations. The Army was on a shrinking path until National Defense Authorization Act 2017 was passed into law. As a result, I’m not retiring next fiscal year, I get to stay in a tad longer. The Army needs bodies, which is the only reason they are keeping me around. The SF community needs long tabbers, which is why the Colonels and Generals got into the mix, to meet the needs of the force, not the needs of the prestige of a piece of cloth.