War Hero: Obama Administration Lowered Standards for Female Rangers

September 17, 2019 Updated: September 25, 2019

News Analysis

The Obama administration put its finger on the scale to favor two women ultimately awarded the prestigious Army Ranger tab in 2015, American war hero James Hasson says.

This advancement was emblematic of the role of political correctness in that administration’s defense policy, he argues in his book, “Stand Down: How Social Justice Warriors Are Sabotaging America’s Military.

Hasson, himself a Ranger as well as an attorney and former U.S. Army captain who won the coveted Bronze Star medal for his service in Afghanistan, bases the charge on whistleblower accounts and a report to which he received access, which he detailed at an event on Sept. 10 in Washington at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center on Capitol Hill.

(Regnery Gateway)

At the event, Hasson decried the Obama Pentagon’s decision, overriding the objections of top military leaders, “to replace the Army and the Marine Corps’ longstanding policy on all-male infantry units with gender-neutral” ones. The question, Hasson noted, wasn’t whether women should serve in combat, but whether they should serve in a very specific subset of units—infantry ground units—whose soldiers are typically carrying 100-pound packs 15 miles a day “and possibly getting in a firefight at the end of it.”

Moreover, the question should be whether placing women in such units “would help the military fight and win wars.”

Instead, under a 2013 order from Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the U.S. military had to open all combat jobs to women by 2016 or explain why any jobs must stay closed. In reaction to the administration’s gender-neutral unit policy, Hasson said, the Marines asked for and received permission to evaluate the policy’s effect on a wide variety of metrics, using outside data analysts (dubbed “the Nerd Squad”) to ensure neutrality.

The yearlong study found that all-male squads outperformed gender-neutral squads 70 percent of the time, according to Hasson. For instance, the study estimated that it would take mixed-gender squads 159 percent longer to extract an incapacitated Marine from a vehicle—“and if the vehicle is on fire, then seconds make the difference between life and death.”

The study also found that “the injury rates for the female Marines who were participating were astronomically higher,” Hasson said. “Forty percent of them suffered musculoskeletal injuries.” In fact, pelvic stress fractures were nearly 10 times more common, because “in many of the cases, the female Marines were carrying a greater amount of weight than their lean body mass total.”

The Marine Corps argued that the study proved that mixed-gender units were less effective, and that furthermore, these squads would deprive the Corps “of some of our best Marines—our best female Marines—because they’re not going to be able to complete full careers,” Hasson said.

However, when the Marines presented the study to Obama’s Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, “he refused to even read it in full. He just didn’t want to know,” Hasson said. In fact, Mabus “went so far as to accuse the Marines of stacking the deck, and picking substandard female Marines to evaluate their abilities.”

“I spoke to one of those Marines, and she called it a slap in the face, and she’s right,” Hasson said.

Regardless, the Obama administration overruled the study’s recommendations, based on the results of the first gender-integrated class at Army Ranger school, he said. Specifically, in 2015Army Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, graduated from Ranger training, the first women ever to do so. At the time, Griest told reporters, “My main concern in coming to Ranger School was I might not be able to carry as much weight or not be able to meet up to the same standard.”

Given that two female cadets had passed Ranger training, the Obama administration argued, it made sense to put women in the toughest units in the military, regardless of the Marines’ data, Hasson said.

Yet after Griest and Haver passed, a number of whistleblowers told House Armed Services Committee Member Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) that “they had been under massive pressure to pass those graduates, and that the standards of the course hadn’t been upheld, which is a very serious allegation,” Hasson said. In response, Russell requested the course’s records, but “the Obama administration refused for months to even meet with him.”

Finally, the Obama administration claimed: “They’re shredded. Sorry. They’re gone. The dog ate the records.”

Hasson, however, managed to obtain the supposedly shredded records “from Ranger School sources,” and “they show that those whistleblowers were telling the truth, that standards weren’t followed, and basically, ideologues put their thumb on the scale of one of the Army’s most premier courses.” The Obama administration “manipulated the process” of the legendary Rangers “to achieve an agenda—an agenda that had nothing at all to do with warfighting.”

The Marine general who was in charge of the original study wrote, “Our future enemies will be the ultimate arbiter of our decisions, when the lives of our Marines are in the balance, and those who choose to turn a blind eye towards immutable realities do so at the expense of the Corps’ warfighting ability, and, in turn, the security of our Nation.”

Social Justice Warriors

Summing up the presentation, Kirby Center Executive Director of Outreach Chris Malagisi said: “‘Safe Space’ stickers on office doors at the Naval Academy. Officers apologizing for ‘microaggressions’ against Air Force cadets. An Army gender integration study urging an end to ‘hypermasculinity’ in combat arms units. … These are just a few of the examples documented [in Hasson’s book].”

Hasson “exposes the relentless social engineering campaign by powerful Deep State ideologues to remake the culture and policies of the U.S. military, even over the explicit objections of military leaders,” according to Malagisi.

The author presents evidence drawn from government documents and more than 40 sources—including senior military officers and Pentagon insiders—that Obama administration activists “used the U.S. military as their preferred vehicle to advance the progressive agenda,” Malagisi said.

Taken together, the examples “paint—as you can imagine—a very troubling picture of what happens when left-wing political operatives impose a political agenda on our Nation’s military: They render our forces less effective, place our military men and women in greater danger, and compromise the military’s sole objective—to protect America by winning our Nation’s wars,” Malagisi said.

Instead, Malagisi concluded, “Our Nation has a moral obligation to ensure that the sons and daughters that it sends to war have the best possible chance for victory.”

America’s Most Progressive Employer? 

Overall, Hasson noted, “The Army that I entered during President Obama’s first term was nothing like the Army that I left at the end of his second.”

In 2016, Hasson reported, Brad Carson, Obama’s then-acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, “boasted” that “their ambition was to make the Department of Defense the nation’s ‘most progressive employer.’”

“In some ways,” the Obama administration “succeeded in some significant and harmful ways.” Even after Obama’s departure, Hasson said, if the situation is left unaddressed, the problem will only get worse. In that case, “the lives of the men and women we send on our behalf into harm’s way and our national security are at greater risk.”

Hasson argued that “helping the men and women we send into harm’s way be successful—and survive” should drive a country’s military decisions.

The book—which Hasson describes as a “cautionary act of journalism”—lays out what Obama’s tenure did to the U.S. military, and underscores “the need to pull back from those changes and to refocus our defense policy on what really matters.”

Indeed, “decision-makers who prioritized progressive hobby horses over our soldiers’ needs during Obama’s eight years of social engineering” have pushed the U.S. military to the point of “crisis.” During that time, “social engineers and social justice warriors, progressive ideologues forced progressive policies on the military even at the expense of military readiness.”

“These progressive policies, if they’re not reversed, pose a much greater long-term threat … to our armed forces than any budget cut ever will,” he said.

After all, Hasson said, “The military’s job isn’t to be as woke as Apple or Google, it’s simply to fight and win our Nation’s wars.”

Naming Names

According to Hasson’s research and experience, “The Obama administration routinely filled powerful and influential positions in the Pentagon … with ideologues.” This was a break with the past, he charged: “Unlike the previous administrations who normally chose national security professionals to be making decisions about our national security, the Obama administration chose political ideologues.”

Specifically, in addition to Carson, Hasson singled out Eric Fanning, a political appointee dropped into the Pentagon for virtually the entire Obama administration, who “was simply a longtime liberal activist.” “He had no military experience whatsoever.”

Hasson noted that Fanning once bragged, “It’s hard to undo these things now that we’ve done them.”

Finally, the war hero pointed to Mabus, whom Obama installed as secretary of the Navy, whose background was as the former Democratic governor of Mississippi and an avowed environmental activist. In his announcement, Hasson pointed out, the Obama administration highlighted his green credentials, not his modest experience with naval warfare.

At the end of Mabus’s tenure, the satirical military site DuffelBlog skewered Mabus’s “gender-neutralizing the Navy’s rank and ratings system, naming warships after progressive social justice icons, forcing the integration of women into combat roles and onto submarines despite idiotic ‘concerns’ from admirals and generals who had only 35 or 40 years of experience, and also trying to fuel every ship and aircraft in the fleet with patchouli oil.”

In the military, Hasson summed up, “When people making decisions have very little experience in the military, and they disdain its mission, and they use it as a vehicle to [push] a political agenda, our service members suffer, and the mission is compromised.”