The Entrance Exam

Mount Yonah (Image: Army Times)

Anybody heard of these ladies that graduated from Ranger School?  A little drama behind it?  Pun intended.

I can’t turn or corner or pick up a phone without somebody asking me about it.  Everybody has an opinion… So here’s another one to add to the pile.

It’s a scary thing showing up at an infantry battalion as an officer.  You’re nervous as hell.  Faced with the biggest responsibility of your life at the age of 23--the lives of 36 men, their families, and everything else associated with combat leadership.  Here’s how it plays out:


You dial in your uniform, haircut, and anything else that may draw attention to the FNG.

You hit the battalion area and meet your first peer, subordinate, leader.

They shake your hand, look at your left shoulder, then look you in the eye.

You are immediately weighed, measured, and judged.


Regardless of the circumstances, showing up without a tab puts you in a generalized category of “failed the entrance exam.”  There are plenty of BAMFs that I had the honor of serving with that didn’t have a tab.  Whether they got hurt in the mountains, cellulitis in Florida, or so nervous that they couldn’t tie a bowline--they didn’t pass.  Most guys in this situation find a way to get back to school.  Either that or suffer continual jabs and depart after five years knowing they’ll never get a company command.  

So, let’s get back to the guys that happened to get that black and yellow tab.  It’s cool for the first few weeks, but then you learn it’s the bare minimum.  You went through the Army’s combat leadership school.   You’re able to lead men, over distance, under heavy load, with limited resources, and get the job done.  That is the expectation of combat leaders.  It’s an amazing honor to serve your nation, those men, and their families in that capacity.  

So what about those ladies that graduated Ranger School?  Have no fear.  I was just setting the conditions.

My wife and I met in the military.  We were married in the Regiment.  And our daughters were born during my time at 2d Battalion.  As the father of two daughters, husband to a military wife, and former Ranger, it was eventually going to come up in family conversation and I was going to have to make a statement to the three most important women in my life.  


“If they don’t lower the standards, good on them.”

Who am I to limit them?  What would I say if my daughter wanted to be a Ranger?  


I’ve been humbled physically and mentally by women throughout my life.  Cardio machines.  Yogis.  Mountain climbers.  Skiers.  Shooters.  Businesswomen.  Humbled.  To think there isn’t a population of women that can’t pass the course would be ridiculous.   Let’s take it to the extreme… What if Rhonda Rhousey showed up in your unit with a tab.  You going to talk s**t to her?


Congrats ladies.  You just passed the entrance exam.  When they shake your hand, look at your left shoulder, and look you in the eye--own it.  It’s time everybody got to work.  There are more pressing issues we need to address as a nation.

Rangers Lead the Way.


Combat Flip Flops


Matthew Griffin
Matthew Griffin


Former Ranger. Current HMFIC at Combat Flip Flops. Future Nomad.

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