Why articles on the US Army Rangers? Sua Sponte is the motto of the 75th Ranger Regiment; it means “By Their Own Volition” – i.e. volunteers. At this point the 75th Ranger Regiment has been in continuous combat since October 2001. They are currently running about 2500 combat missions per year. As Skovland (2014) said:
“On September 11th, 2001 radical jihadists fundamentally changed our country. They brought war to America’s front door through the use of passenger aircraft violently rammed into city buildings and crashed into rural fields. This marked the beginning of a new era for the 75th Ranger Regiment. No longer was it a unit used for short duration missions in trouble spots around the world. When those towers fell, it marked the beginning of a transition to more than a decade of sustained combat. The Rangers didn’t know it at the time, but the Regiment would not miss a single day of the long war on terror that was coming (p. 17).
This series of articles will look at Army Rangers in the modern era, that is World War II to the present. Rangers trace their heritage to before the French and Indian War. With the most famous of the ranger units being His Majesty’s Independent Company of Rangers (“Rogers Rangers”). There are attempts to draw a continuous lineage from then until now. This is beyond the scope of this series. The rangers are now in the 75th Ranger Regiment (aka “The Regiment”), but Rangers were reinstituted in the Army in WWII in six regiments, therefore World War II is where we will start the history. The shoulder sleeve insignia and badges will be examined along the way.
These articles will cover World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Post-Vietnam (through 2000), The Global War on Terror (“GWOT”) – Afghanistan, and GWOT – Iraq. This first article will provide a general background to The Regiment, by providing information about the Special Operations Command, the Standing Orders of Roger’s Rangers and the Ranger Creed.
The Special Operations Command
To begin with, it is useful to put The Regiment into its organizational context. It is part of the Special Operations Command. After Dessert One in Iran, the 1980 unsuccessful rescue attempt of the hostages from the US Embassy in Teheran, the National Command Authority recognized the need to bring all Special Operations units under one commend.
1st Special Forces Group (SF)
Special Forces (SF): SF are geographically oriented, active-duty Special Forces Groups – the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 10th. Two other groups, the 19th and 20th, are in the National Guard. Each group has a headquarters company, three battalions and an intelligence unit.
Each battalion has three companies and a support company. Companies are also referred to as operational detachment bravo “ODBs”. Each company has a headquarters and six operational detachments alpha, or “A Teams”, of 12 personnel. The team members are a commander (captain), a technician, who functions as a deputy (warrant officer), and ten noncommissioned officers (sergeants), specializing respectively in operations, intelligence, light and heavy weapons, medicine, communications, engineering and demolitions. Each team member is “cross-trained” in at least two specialties other then their primary one (Adams, 1998. P. 3).
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR)
Special Operations Aviation (SOA): The principal unit is the 160th Special Operations Regiment (SOAR), although separate Special Aviation Squadrons also exist, one of which is permanently stationed in Panama. These are helicopter units including observation, transportation and attack aircraft. Principal aircraft types are MH-6, AH-6J. MIH-60K and MH-47E. Some units are organized with a single aircraft type, while others are mixed. SOA provides aviation support to Army SOF through insertion/extraction, attack, medical evacuation, electronic warfare and other functions (Adams, 1998. p. 4).
75th Ranger Regiment
Rangers: The 75th Ranger Regiment; these units are elite, airborne (i.e. parachute) light infantry. The regiment has three rifle battalions and a special troops battalion. The 1st Battalion is stationed at Fort Stewart Georgia, the 2nd Battalion is at Fort Lewis Washington, and the Regimental HQ, The 3rd Battalion and the Special Troops Battalion are located at Fort Benning Georgia. - all stationed at separate installations. Each battalion has a company headquarters, support company and four rifle companies. Each company is composed of three rifle platoons and a weapons platoon with machine guns and mortars (Adams, 1998). “Rangers perform a full spectrum of infantry tasks at a very high level of proficiency. Their special function is to seize and hold enemy airfields or other installations by parachute or helicopter assault” (Adams, 1998, p. 4).
4th Psychological Operations Group (“PsyOps”)
Psychological Operations (Psyops): There is one active duty Psyops unit, the 4th Psychological Operations Group, with five battalions, totaling about 1,300 personnel. There are two reserve Groups. Psyops units assess the information environment, and develop, produce and disseminate media products, including leaflets, posters, newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts and other items. Tactical loudspeaker teams provide another means for military commanders to communicate with the civil population in the area of operations. Psyops forward-liaison detachments are located in Europe, Hawaii and Panama (Adams, 1998, p. 4).