The 75th Ranger Regiment —comprised of United States Army Rangers— is a special operations force of the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia. The Regiment is a flexible, highly-trained, and a rapidly deployable force with specialized skills that enables it to be employed against a variety of special operations and conventional targets.
The 75th Ranger Regiment specializes in direct action, airborne, air assault, light-infantry operations, conducting raids and ambushes, infiltration and exfiltration (by air, land, or sea), airfield seizures, recovery of personnel and special equipment, and support of general purpose forces (GPF) among others. Each Ranger Battalion can deploy anywhere in the world with 18 hours notice.
On 6 June 1944, during the assault landing on Dog White sector of Omaha Beach as part of the invasion of Normandy, General Norman Cota, while under heavy machine gun fire, calmly walked towards Maj. Max Schneider, CO of the 5th Ranger Battalion and asked “What outfit is this?”, someone yelled “5th Rangers!”. To this, Cota replied “Well, Goddamn it then, Rangers, lead the way!”. From this, the Ranger motto (“Rangers lead the way!”) was born.
“Rangers lead the way” is often abbreviated RLTW among Rangers.
Sua Sponte, Latin for “Of their own accord” is the 75th Ranger Regiment’s regimental motto. Modern Rangers are considered four-time volunteers: for the U.S. Army, Airborne School, Ranger School, and service in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
● 1st Ranger Battalion (1/75) – Ft. Stewart, Ga – Hunter Army Airfield
● 2nd Ranger Battalion (2/75) – Ft. Lewis, Wa
● 3rd Ranger Battalion (3/75) – Ft. Benning, Ga
● 75th Ranger Regiment Headquarters – Ft. Benning, Ga
● 75th Special Troops Battalion – Ft. Benning, Ga
- Operation Eagle Claw – Iran, 1980
- Operation Urgent Fury – Grenada, 1983
- Operation Just Cause – Panama, 1989
- Operation Desert Shield – Iraq, 1990
- Operation Desert Storm – Iraq, 1991
- Operation Restore Hope – Somalia, 1993
- Operation Gothic Serpent – led to Battle of Mogadishu
- Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, 2001
- Operation Iraqi Freedom – Iraq, 2003
Congress authorized the raising of ranger units for Indian fighting in the western territories during the War of 1812. In May 1942 during World War II, the 1st Ranger Battalion was sanctioned, recruited and began training in Scotland under the British Commandos. Together with the ensuing 3rd, and 4th Ranger Battalions they served in North Africa and Italy under William O. Darby until the Battle of Cisterna (January 29, 1944) when most of the 1st and 3rd battalions were captured.
Prior to the 5th Ranger Battalion landing on Dog White Sector, Omaha Beach in WWII, the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the 150 foot cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, a few miles to the west, to destroy a battery of five 155mm guns. Under constant fire during the climb, they found only a small company of Germans on the cliffs and the artillery withdrawn some 500 meters. The guns were later found and destroyed, and the Rangers cut and held the main road for two days before being relieved.
Meanwhile the 6th Ranger Battalion fought in the Pacific theater. They led the invasion of the Philippines and were credited for the daring Raid at Cabanatuan.
After World War II, the Rangers were disbanded. However, the training regime was kept in place, though only senior NCOs and officers were able to attend training. With the outbreak of war in Korea, the Rangers were reactivated, and formed into Ranger Companies. The Chief of Staff assigned the Ranger Training Program to Colonel John Gibson Van Houten. Members of the 505th Airborne Regiment and the 80th AA Battalion reported in, and together they would become the 2nd Ranger Company, the only all-black Ranger unit to serve in Korea. During the course of the war the Rangers patrolled, probed, scouted, destroyed, attacked and ambushed the enemy. The 1st Rangers destroyed the 12th North Korean Division in a daring night raid. The 2nd and 4th Rangers made an airborne assault near Munsan-Ni where Life Magazine reported that Allied troops were now patrolling above the 38th Parallel. The 2nd Rangers plugged a crucial gap made by the retreating allied forces, the 5th Rangers helped stop the Chinese 5th Phase Offensive. After the Korean War the Rangers were disbanded.
In February of 1969, under a new Combat Arms Reorganization System, U.S. Army Rangers were reformed in Vietnam as the 75th Ranger Infantry Regiment (Airborne). Thirteen companies of Rangers (only 12 of which were in Vietnam) were raised from units that had been performing long range missions in Vietnam since 1966 as LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) and LRP (Long Range Patrol) companies. These new Rangers were given a unit history somewhat curiously traced to Merrill’s Marauders. In Vietnam, the Rangers were organized as independent companies (C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, and P) and each company was attached to a major American combat unit. Rangers in Vietnam conducted long range, covert reconnaissance into denied areas. They collected intelligence on these missions, planned and directed air strikes on previously unidentified targets, acted as force multipliers to conventional operations, carried out bomb damage assessment in enemy controlled areas, executed hunter-killer missions at night and in daylight by set ambush or by hasty ambush and surprise, and specially trained and equipped Ranger snipers killed individual enemy soldiers with well placed rifle shots from concealed positions.
In addition, Rangers attempted recovery of friendly POW’s, captured enemy personnel for search and interrogation, employed wire taps on communication lines used by the enemy in his established base areas and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and Rangers mined enemy trails and motor vehicle transportation routes.
After Vietnam, division and brigade commanders saw that the Army needed an elite light infantry unit capable of rapid deployment, so in 1974 Gen. Abrams created the 1st Ranger Battalion. Eight months later the 2nd Ranger Battalion was formed and in 1984 the 3rd Ranger Battalion plus HQ. In 1986 the 75th Ranger Regiment was formed and their lineage formally authorized. The 4th, 5th, and 6th Ranger Battalions are Ranger Training Battalions and not organized as units of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Ranger elements participated on several operations, including the 1979 aborted attempt to rescue the hostages held in Tehran (Operation Eagle Claw), and Operation Urgent Fury on Grenada in 1982.
Operation Gothic Serpent was a military operation conducted by special operations forces of the United States with the primary mission of capturing General Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The operation took place in Somalia, Africa from August to October 1993 and was supervised by the Joint Special Operations Command.
As part of the operation, the soldiers were deployed in a mission to arrest two of Aidid’s lieutenants. The result of that mission —executed under the command of Gothic Serpent— became known as the Battle of Mogadishu to most or “The Battle Of The Black Sea” to those who fought it. It is portrayed in Mark Bowden’s bestselling book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War.
On August 22, Task Force Ranger was deployed to Somalia under the command of Maj. General William F. Garrison, commander of JSOC at the time. The force consisted of:
- One company of Army Rangers (Company B or “Bravo”) from the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment
- 130 operators from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force)
- A deployment package of 16 helicopters and personnel from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) which included MH-60 Black Hawks and A/MH-6 Little Birds. Their mission was the pursuit of Aidid under the code name Operation Gothic Serpent.
- Several Navy SEALs and Air Force SOF
On the afternoon of October 3, 1993, two leaders of Aidid’s clan were said to be located at a residence in central Mogadishu. The task force sent 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and 160 men to arrest them. During the mission, Private Todd Blackburn missed the rope while fast-roping from an MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and fell 70 feet to the street below, badly injuring himself. The two Somali militia leaders were quickly arrested and the prisoners and the injured Ranger were loaded on a convoy of ground vehicles. However, armed Somalis converged on the target area from all over the city.The battle turned out to be the most intensive close combat that US troops had engaged in since the Vietnam War. In the end, two MH-60 Black Hawks were destroyed and 19 US soldiers lost their lives. Estimates of Somali dead range from 300 to 500 Somali Militiamen killed during the battle. 18 Americans died in the actual battle; SFC Matt Rierson died two days later after a mortar attack on the US compound.
Battle for Haditha Dam
When U.S. Army Rangers seized the Haditha Dam and hydropower complex on the Euphrates River on 01 April 2003 to prevent its possible destruction by Iraqi forces, a potential non-traditional weapon of “mass destruction” had been eliminated from the Iraqi arsenal. The U.S. Central Command decision to employ the rangers to seize the dam was based in large measure on information and briefings from the Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) TeleEngineering Operations Center in Vicksburg, Miss. The possible destruction of this critical hydropower facility, located about 125 miles northwest of Karbala, Iraq, posed potential catastrophic effects throughout the country. In addition to its impact on the war fight, the resulting flooding as an immediate aftermath and and lack of water supply during the summer months would have added to the hardships being experienced by the Iraqi people.
As of 01 April 2003 Special operations forces remained in control of the Haditha Dam. They had seized that to prevent its destruction and the release of certain water flow that would affect the down-river areas particularly near Karbala. The town of Hadithah is just to the south of it. There had been repeated attacks against the force holding the dam by artillery and mortars, and these were being shot by counter special operations units operating from the town of Hadithah. The coalition forces in place have been well-supported by close air support, and that has enabled them to hold the dam. The initial seizure of the dam by special operations forces did occur at night. Initial fires against known targets that were in the area. This is a very robust structure that had 16 floors inside it and underground. Several US Army Rangers were killed by an IED at Haditha.
The Road to Becoming a Ranger
I. Basic Combat Training (BCT) + MOS Training
II. Airborne School (3 weeks)
III. Ranger Assessment and Selection Process (RASP) (8 weeks)
RASP 1 is an 8 week selection course for soldiers in the ranks of Private to Sergeant that is broken down into Phase 1, which is three weeks long; and Phase 2, which is five weeks long. Ranger candidates will learn the basics of what it takes to become a member of an elite fighting force. Candidates are tested on their mental and physical capabilities, while learning the advanced skills all Rangers are required to know to start their career with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
RASP 1/Phase 1 Requirements
• To begin RASP 1, Phase 1 a minimum score of 60% in your age
• To continue on to RASP 1, Phase 2, a minimum score of 70% in
your age group
• 12 mile forced march in 3hrs with a 45 lb rucksack
• 5 mile run in 40 minutes or less
Attain 80% on the following tests:
• Ranger First Responder Test & Trauma Lanes
• Ranger Standards Test
• Ranger History Test
• Combat Navigation (Day & Night)
Pass the following:
• Peer Evaluations/RASP Selection Board
• Psychological Screening
• To pass RASP 1/Phase 2 a minimum score of 80% of your age group
• Combat Driver’s Course
• Hand-to-hand Fighting & Combatives Certification
• Ranger Advanced Tactical Marksmanship Training
• Combat Explosives and Breaching Course
• FRIES Training – Fast Roping & Combat Extraction
RASP 2 is a 21-day selection course for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers in the rank of Staff-Sergeant and above, all Officers and Warrant Officers. Candidates are tested on their physical and mental capabilities while learning the special tactics, techniques and procedures that set the Regiment apart, and learning the expectations of leading and developing young Rangers to be the Regimental leadership of tomorrow.
Upon successful completion of RASP, candidates will don the khaki beret and 75th Ranger Regiment Scroll, knowing that they are a U.S. Army Ranger, and a member of one of the finest and most distinguished Army units in the world.
RASP 2 Major Events
• APFT, a minimum score of 80% in your age group required to continue
• 5-mile run, a time of 40 minutes or less is required to continue
• 12 mile ruck march, within 3 hours
• History and Standards Written tests, must score 80% or more
• M9 Qualification
• CQM Tables
• Airborne Operation
• FTX, 24-36 hours
• Psychological Assessment
• RASP Board
IV. Ranger School
Initial career development requires that all members of the 75th Ranger Regiment attend and pass Ranger School and earn their Ranger Tab. A Ranger cannot become a leader within the 75th Ranger Regiment if he hasn’t successfully completed and graduated from Ranger School.
The unofficial motto of Ranger students from the Regiment is “With a tab, or on a slab” — that they will return to the regiment either with their Ranger Tab or dead. This may be a variation of the Spartan mothers’ directive to their soldier sons, to return “With your shield, or upon it.”
Upon successful completion of all 3 phases of Ranger School, the new Ranger is awarded the Ranger Tab and returns to his unit, a fully qualified and operationally deployable Ranger. The three phases take place at Fort Benning, Camp Frank D. Merril in Dahlonega, Georgia, and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The United States Army Ranger School is an intense 9-week long combat leadership course, conducted in three 3-week phases – at Fort Benning, GA (woodland terrain, ‘Benning Phase’), Camp Merrill, Georgia (Mountain Phase), and Camp Rudder (Eglin AFB) (Swamp Phase). The Fort Bliss, Texas (Desert Phase) was “phased out” more than 10 years ago. Ranger School training centers on a basic scenario: the flourishing drug operations of the enemy forces, “the Cortinian Army,” must be eradicated. To do so, the Rangers will have to take the fight into enemy territory, the rough terrain around Fort Benning, the mountains of North Georgia and the swamps and coastal areas of Florida. The Rangers students are given a clear mission, but it’s up to them to determine how best to carry it out.
Fort Benning is the home of the Ranger Training Brigade and its 4th Ranger Training Battalion, which hosts the “crawl” phase of Ranger School, where students learn the fundamentals of mission planning at the Squad level. This phase is critical to success, as it lays the groundwork for phases two and three, the “walk” and “run” phases.
At Benning, students must successfully complete the Ranger Assessment Phase, which includes many of the tasks Best Ranger Competition spectators have become familiar with: the Malvesti Field Obstacle Course, the Darby Queen, the Prusik climb and the log-walk-rope-drop. Here they also learn the basics of close combat, using a pugil stick, a knife or bare hands.
At the 5th Ranger Training Battalion, the students learn mountaineering skills, and at the 6th Ranger Training Battalion, they must demonstrate tactical and technical proficiency in swampy terrain leading a platoon-sized patrol. This phase includes small boat operations and an extensive “do-or-die” field-training exercise.
All in all, Ranger School students will participate in three airborne operations and 10 air-assault operations. They are evaluated on their ability to lead at various levels in various situations. Part of the evaluation is a peer evaluation, and a failing peer evaluation can result in disqualification from the course.
If a student performs successfully but suffers an injury that keeps him from finishing, he may be “recycled” at the discretion of the battalion or brigade commander, meaning he’ll be given an opportunity to heal and finish the course with the next class.
Field instruction composes the majority of the course. While in the field, students carry gear weighing as much as 45 kg (100 pounds), spending each day planning and executing attacks on widely dispersed objectives, followed by a rapid movement to a new patrol base to begin the planning cycle yet again. Training during the course averages 19.4 hours per day. Thus, students average only a couple hours of sleep every night, and two or fewer meals per day. This leaves them heavily fatigued throughout the course. A common piece of folk wisdom reported by students is that they begin the Ranger course at their lifetime peak of physical fitness, but due to the punishing training they find themselves degraded to a lifetime low of physical fitness upon completion of the course. Only one-third of those who attempt the course pass.
V. Advanced Schools & Training
Career development requires that all members of the 75th Ranger Regiment successfully complete Ranger School, earning the Ranger Tab. Rangers in direct combat MOSs are not permitted to become leaders within the 75th Ranger Regiment without the Ranger Tab. Rangers in non-combat MOSs are strongly encouraged, as well.
Throughout their time in Ranger Regiment, Rangers may attend many types of special schools and training. Some of these schools include: military free-fall; combat diver qualification course; survival, evasion, resistance & escape (SERE); jumpmaster; pathfinder; Combatives Instructor; first responder/combat lifesaver; language training; Mountain Warfare School; and many types of shooting, driving, and assault procedures training. Rangers with specialized jobs may also attend various special schools and training related to their job scope. MOS 13F (forward observers) may attend naval gunfire training and close air support courses; medics will attend the special operations combat medic course; communications specialists attend joint communications courses.
Ranger Tab vs Ranger Scroll
Rangers in the 75th believe that the term “Army Ranger” is reserved solely for someone who serves within the 75th Ranger Regiment. A popular phrase within the Ranger Regiment regarding this issue is: “The tab is a school, the scroll is a way of life” (the scroll being the insignia of the 75th Ranger Regiment). A person who passes Ranger School is considered “Ranger Qualified” as he has passed Ranger School.
Rangers assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment wear the tan beret (with the exception of the Ranger Training Brigade (RTB); soldiers who are Special Forces qualified and assigned to Special Forces manning positions within the US Special Operations Command wear the Green Beret. Paratroopers, soldiers who are both Airborne qualified and assigned to an active parachutist position, wear the Maroon Airborne Beret. The Rangers adopted the tan beret when the decision was made by Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki to issue black berets to regular soldiers in June 2001, in order to make them appear elite. This created a lot of discontent within the 75th Ranger Regiment and even led to ex-Rangers going on nationwide road marches to Washington DC to protest against the decision. Since there wasn’t a Presidential authorization to the Regiment for exclusive wear of the black beret, they switched to wearing a tan beret to preserve a unique appearance, tan being reflective of the buckskin worn by the men of Robert Rogers.
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my Ranger Regiment.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move farther, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One-hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.