Liam Walsh is an active-duty Army infantry officer and is currently pursuing a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. After graduating from West Point, Liam deployed to Northwest Baghdad as a platoon leader from 2007 until 2008. Upon completion of the Maneuver Captain's Career Course, he deployed to Southern Afghanistan as a battalion planner in 2010. In 2011, Liam took command of a Stryker rifle company and deployed them to Kandahar's Arghandab district in 2012. While deployed, Liam took command of his battalion's headquarters and headquarters company. He enjoys backpacking and distance running.
As a graduate of Ranger School and someone who has spent a fair amount of time leading infantrymen in combat, I find it heartening that the Army appears willing to entertain the notion of allowing women to attempt Ranger School through a one-time assessment early next year, so long as they can meet the same physical standards and prerequisites as their male counterparts. This announcement was made on Friday, Sept. 12, as part of the Army’s effort to assess how and when to open up combat arms military occupational specialties to women. A final decision will not be made until January about whether to move ahead with the assessment.
Ranger school teaches you how to lead others when the cards are down. I’ve seen the absolute best, and arguably some of the worst, of human nature when I was in Ranger school. The lack of sleep, the lack of food, the exposure to the elements, the constant pressure, the uncertainty of when your roster number will get called next, the seemingly never-ending slog of those 60-plus days --- it all contributes to creating leaders who can make others perform through extreme adversity, especially when they don’t want to. The overwhelming majority of the graduates of the Ranger course go on to be exceptional leaders because of their experience — I know I did.
Author and Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien wrote, “the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.” As the situation in Iraq deteriorates to levels not seen since 2007, Americans must decide how we will remember the role our country played there for the last decade. For Iraq War veterans, remembering the war can be bittersweet and frustrating, and lead to many questions about whether the years spent in combat were a waste --- a waste of time, a waste of money, a waste of life. However, it is important not to dwell on the past, look toward the future, and to fight this narrative.