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Ranger: A True Warrior

A Ranger embodies the heart, soul and spirit of a true warrior. He is expected to do things others may not or cannot do otherwise. He will accomplish extraordinary things others can only dream about. In the military scheme of things sacred and revered, the Ranger way of life is not for just anybody and few will ever make the grade of becoming the ultimate warrior soldier. A Ranger never rests on his laurels or past accomplishments. He will continue to prove himself to be the best each and everyday.

Self sacrifice, teamwork, and sheer determination at overcoming any obstacle, completing the mission spearhead the soul, and encompass the ideals of what exactly a Ranger is and does, both in word and deed. It is not just a title; it is in fact, a way of life. Tough, demanding, fast paced, arduous and dangerous are only some of the terms associated with this elite soldier. The United States Army Ranger has had a long tradition of history dating back to the beginnings of this great nation.

The ranks of Ranger Units have always been filled with only those who can endure and persevere when others may fall by the wayside. It has never been for the weak or faint of heart. Mental and physical discipline, technical and tactical expertise and a never quit mindset are some of the qualities and characteristics that set an Army Ranger apart from everyone else. Once immersed in this mindset, it will remain embodied with him forever, wherever he may go and whatever he may do. The United States Army Ranger is the standard of excellence by which all others are judged.

Ranger Tradition

The origin of the ranger tradition lies in the seventeenth century wars between colonists and Native American tribes. In the original concept rangers were full-time soldiers employed by the colonial governments to "range" between fixed frontier fortifications as a reconnaissance system to provide early warning of hostile raids. In offensive operations they became scouts and guides, locating targets (such as villages) for task forces drawn from the militia or other colonial troops.

By 1675-1676 a new element appeared in the ranger concept. Benjamin Church (1639-1718) of Massachusetts developed a special full-time unit mixing white colonists selected for frontier skills with friendly Indians to carry out offensive strikes against hostile Indians in terrain where normal militia units were ineffective. In fact, his memoirs published in 1716 by a son are the first American military manual.

The traditional ranger usage reached its peak during the French and Indian War. Robert Rogers of New Hampshire organized a corps of New England woodsmen as full-time Provincials directly under British military auspices and paid out of British funds. The companies supported British operations against French Canada on the New York and St. Lawrence River fronts. They occasionally operated with friendly Indians, but more commonly served the British as a substitute for traditional allies. Astute British commanders assigned regular British officers to Rogers' Rangers for training in wilderness warfare which they could then pass on to their normal regiments.

Veterans of this corps played a major role in the Continental Army during the Revolution, including Major General Israel Putnam and Brigadier Generals John Stark and Moses Hazen. The tranditional ranger usage had only limited application during that later war. Various state governments did employ such units for local frontier security, but the Continental Army formed very few, in part because George Washington considered frontier security to be a local responsibility and focused national military forces on opposing regular British and German units in a formal battlefield context.

Other than the regiments and separate companies of riflemen from Pennsylvania and the states to the south, who really functioned as light infantry rather than rangers, the Continental Army only formed two functional ranger units. Knowlton's Rangers, a provisional three-company unit of volunteers from Connecticut and Massachusetts line regiments under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, came into being during the late summer of 1776 at New York City. It performed excellently in a light infantry role at the battle of Harlem Heights on 16 September 1776, but Knowlton suffered a mortal wound. Two months later the remnants of the corps fell into British hands when Fort Washington surrendered. Captain Nathan Hale of this corps gained immortality as a brave but singularly inept spy.

Whitcomb's Rangers started as a similar provisional unit on the Lake Champlain front in 1776. It gained permanent status as a two-company force on 15 October of that year and provided reconnaissance capability to the Northern Department until 1 January 1781 when it disbanded at Coos, New Hampshire, as part of a general reorganization of the Continental Army. Most of Whitcomb's men came from New Hampshire and the Hampshire Grants (now Vermont).

Other units in the Continental Army either used the term ranger in their designation or were commonly called rangers, but did not serve in that capacity in the traditional sense. South Carolina and Georgia each raised mounted ranger units in 1775-1776, but when they became part of the Continental Army during the summer of 1776 they transformed into mounted infantry. In fact over the period of several years the 3d South Carolina Regiment gradually evolved into a line infantry regiment. When Washington authorized Gist's Additional Continental Regiment in 1777 he intended to man it with a mixture of Caucasian southern frontiersmen and members of the Cherokee and related tribes. Washington wanted to use it as a vehicle for insuring tribal support--its Native American members would become hostages for the good behavior of the rest of the tribe--as well as a combat element. The regiment never recruited the Indian component, and changes in British operations led to the transformation of the white elements into normal infantry.

Contrary to myth, the light troops in the Continental Army overwhelmingly followed European doctrinal concepts. The four regiments of light dragoons raised in 1777 as a reconnaissance force derived from European developments in light cavalry during the eighteenth century. Only during a brief period in the winter of 1777-1778 did the Continental Army experiment with the idea of employing them as a shock force.

Light infantry companies added to the regimental organization of each Continental Army infantry regiment in 1778 also had European roots. The American leadership stressed the ideas of Maurice, comte de Saxe and the comte de Guibert, two leading French military theorists, which advocated cross-training every soldier to perform both line or light infantry roles to allow mission flexibility. Light companies normally assembled into provisional battalions at the start of each year's campaign and acted as a special strike force in traditional battlefield roles, not as a reconnaissance element.

The Continental Army's other light troops sprang from a relatively new European concept not the native American ranger tradition. During the Seven Years' War most European armies developed partisan corps (also called frei korps). Originally fielded by the French to counter Austrian irregulars recruited in the Balkans, they filled a unique niche by providing deep security around an army in the field or carried out raids behind enemy lines. The Continental Army authorized several of these formations in 1777 and 1778, primarily as a vehicle to employ European volunteers who could not be inserted into existing regiments without provoking major arguments over rank, or because of language barriers. "Light Horse Harry" Lee of Virginia (the father of Robert E. Lee) raised the only American-born unit under this concept. Each partisan unit in the Continental Army, however, had a unique organizational structure.

The 1781 reorganization of the Continental resolved the issue of light troops by bringing greater centralized control. The light infantry companies continued under their existing practice of forming provisional battalions for each campaign season. The four regiments of light dragoons transformed into combined arms Legionary Corps composed of four mounted and two dismounted troops; the various partisan elements consolidated into two Partisan Corps, each with three mounted and three dismounted troops. The structure of the legionary corps focused on providing close reconnaissance and security patrols for a field army although various operational and manpower problems hampered most of the regiments from achieving complete success.

Only Elisha Sheldon's 2d Legionary Corps (a Connecticut unit serving in 1781 in the West Point-Westchester County zone) fully exploited the possibilities of the combined arms structure. The two dismounted troops armed and equipped as light infantry provided a defensive element to protect the camp from enemy surprise attack, and also provided a base of fire around which the mounted elements could maneuver. They also became very adept at employing the mounted troops in a raid designed to provoke a British pursuit which would end with a classic "L-shaped" ambush.

The 1st Partisan Corps under the Frenchman "Colonel Armand" (the marquis de la Rouerie) and the 2d under Lee both drew assignments in Major General Nathanael Greene's Southern Department. Armand's remained a shell during 1781, but Lee had great success in the Carolinas carrying out those specific missions for which the 3-3 mix of mounted and dismounted troops had been designed. In formal battles it provided unblemished flank security, but it was even better in rear battle by conducting deep raids against British logistical bases. Lee particularly shined when his regulars stiffened the irregular local forces of leaders like Francis ("Swamp Fox") Marion. The mix of mounted and dismounted men gave it somewhat greater staying power in independent firefights while also allowing rapid forced marches (each light infantryman held on to a dragoon's stirrups).

None of the light units employed by the Continental Army carried out a training role as Rogers' Rangers had during the French and Indian War. In fact, Major General Friedrich von Steuben wrote a separate drill manual for them in late 1780. He and Washington intended it to be the companion to the famous "Blue Book", but operational factors prevented its publication and distribution.

Ranger history predates the Revolutionary War. In the mid 1700's, Capt. Benjamin Church and Maj. Robert Rogers both formed Ranger units to fight during the King Phillips War and the French and Indian War. Maj. Robert Rogers wrote the 19 standing orders that are still in use today.

The Continental Congress formed eight companies of expert riflemen in 1775 to fight in the Revolutionary War. In 1777, this force of hardy frontiersmen commanded by Dan Morgan was known as The Corps of Rangers. Francis Marion, "The Swamp Fox", organized another famous Revolutionary War Ranger element known as Marion's Partisans.

During the War of 1812, companies of United States Rangers were raised from among the frontier settlers as part of the regular army. Throughout the war, they patrolled the frontier from Ohio to Western Ill. on horseback and by boat. They participated in many skirmishes and battles with the British and their Indian allies. Many famous men belonged to Ranger units during the 18th and 19th centuries to include Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln.

The Civil War included Rangers such as John Singleton Mosby who was the most famous Confederate Ranger during the Civil War. His raids on Union camps and bases were so effective, part of North-Central Va. soon became known as Mosby's Confederacy. After the Civil War, more than half a century passed without military Ranger units in America. However, during World War II (1941-1945), the United States, using British Commando standards, activated six Ranger infantry battalions.

Maj. (later Brigadier General) William O. Darby organized and activated the 1st Ranger Battalion on June 19, 1942, at Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. The 1st Ranger Battalion participated in the North African landing at Arzeu, Algeria, the Tunisian Battles, and the critical Battle of El Guettar. The 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions were activated and trained by Col. Darby in Africa near the end of the Tunisian Campaign. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Battalions formed the Ranger Force. They began the tradition of wearing the scroll shoulder sleeve insignia, which has been officially adopted for today's Ranger battalions.

The 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions participated in the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings at Omaha Beach, Normandy. It was during the bitter fighting along the beaches that the Rangers gained their motto, "Rangers, lead the way!" They conducted daring missions to include scaling the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc, overlooking Omaha Beach, to destroy German gun emplacements trained on the beachhead.

The 6th Ranger Battalion operated in the Philippines and formed the rescue force that liberated American Prisoners Of War from a Japanese POW camp at Cabanatuan in Jan. 1945. The 6th Battalion destroyed the Japanese POW camp and evacuated more than 500 prisoners. The 75th Infantry Regiment was first organized in the China-Burma-India Theater on Oct. 3, 1943 as Task Force Galahad. It was during the campaigns in the China-Burma-India Theater that the regiment became known as Merrill's Marauders after its commander, Maj. Gen. Frank D. Merrill. The Ranger Battalions were deactivated at the close of WWII.

The outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950 again signaled the need for Rangers. Fifteen Ranger Companies were formed during the Korean War. The Rangers went to battle throughout the winter of 1950 and the spring of 1951. They were nomadic warriors, attached first to one regiment and then to another. They performed "out front" work â€" scouting, patrolling, raids, ambushes, spearheading assaults, and as counterattack forces to regain lost positions.

Rangers were again called to serve their country during the Vietnam War. The 75th Infantry was reorganized once more on Jan. 1, 1969, as a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System. Fifteen separate Ranger companies were formed from this reorganization. Thirteen served proudly in Vietnam until inactivation on Aug. 15, 1972.

In Jan. 1974, Gen. Creighton Abrams, Army Chief of Staff, directed the formation of a Ranger battalion. The 1st Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry, was activated and parachuted into Fort Stewart, Ga. on July 1, 1974. The 2nd Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry followed with activation on Oct. 1, 1974. The 3rd Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger), and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Infantry (Ranger), received their colors on Oct. 3, 1984, at Fort Benning, Ga. The 75th Ranger Regiment was designated in Feb. 1986.

The modern Ranger battalions were first called upon in 1980. Elements of 1st Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger) participated in the Iranian hostage rescue attempts. In Oct. 1983, 1st and 2nd (-) Ranger Battalions spearheaded Operation Urgent Fury by conducting a daring low-level parachute assault to seize Point Salines Airfield and rescue American citizens at True Blue Medical Campus.

The entire 75th Ranger Regiment participated in Operation Just Cause. Rangers spearheaded the action by conducting two important operations. Simultaneous parachute assaults were conducted onto Torrijos/Tocumen International Airport, Rio Hato Airfield and General Manuel Noriega's beach house, to neutralize Panamanian Defense Forces. The Rangers captured 1,014 Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW), and over 18,000 arms of various types.

Elements of Company B, and 1st Platoon Company A, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment deployed to Saudi Arabia from February 12, 1991 to April 15, 1991, in support of Operation Desert Storm. In August 1993, elements of 3rd Battalion, and 75th Ranger Regiment, deployed to Somalia to assist United Nations forces in bringing order to a desperately chaotic and starving nation. On October 3, 1993, the Rangers conducted a daring daylight raid with 1st SFOD-D. For nearly 18 hours, the Rangers delivered devastating firepower, killing an estimated 600 Somalis in what many have called the fiercest ground combat since Vietnam.

On 24 November 2000 the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment (RRD) Team 2 and a command and control element to Kosovo in support of TF Falcon. After the events of September 11, 2001, Rangers were called upon to lead the way in the Global War on Terrorism. On 19 October 2001, 3rd Battalion and 75th Ranger Regiment spearheaded ground forces by conducting an airborne assault to seize Objective Rhino in Afganistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On 28 March 2003, 3rd Battalion employed the first airborne assault in Iraq to seize Objective Serpent in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Due to the changing nature of warfare and the need for an agile and sustainable Ranger Force, The Regimental Special Troops Battalion (RSTB) was activated 17 July 2006. The RSTB conducts sustainment, intelligence, reconnaissance and maintenance missions which were previously accomplished by small detachments assigned to the Regimental headquarters and then attached within each of the three Ranger battalions. The activation of the RSTB signifies a major waypoint in the transformation of the Ranger Force from a unit designed for short term "contingency missions" to continuous combat operations without loss in lethality or flexibility.

Today, Rangers from all four of its current Battalions continue to lead the way in the Global War on Terrorism. The 75th Ranger Regiment is conducting sustained combat operations in multiple countries deploying from multiple locations in the United States, a task that is unprecedented for the Regiment. Rangers continue conducting combat operations with almost every deployed special operations, conventional and coalition force in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Ranger Regiment is executing a wide range of diverse operations that include airborne and air assaults into Afghanistan and Iraq, mounted infiltrations behind enemy lines, complex urban raids and rescue operations. In addition to conducting missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism, the 75th Ranger Regiment continues to train in the United States and overseas to prepare for future no-notice worldwide combat deployments. The Regiment also continues to recruit, assess and train the next generation of Rangers and Ranger leadership.

Over the course of Ranger history, from Rogers Rangers to today, Rangers have improvised equipment to suit their combat needs. This has been evident from the use of hatchets by the Early Rangers, to creating field expedient breaching charges and adapting lights for urban operations in Operation Just Cause. Indeed, the Ranger' ability to adapt and improvise weapons systems and other pieces of equipment to fulfill a narrow requirement has resulted in improved equipment across the entire Army.



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