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Subject: Ranger Operations Capable
longrifle    11/5/2005 12:22:22 AM
Is maintaing three battalions of Army Rangers at razor's edge the best way to conduct special light infantry strike missions? I've talked to lots of former Rangers who say that after about two or three years in the regiment you're burned out, and maybe on the way to a divorce. Would there be any advantage to haveing select airborne infantry battalions under go a train-up in Ranger tasks to become "Ranger Operations Capable," so to speak? Similar to Marine battalions undergoing a train-up in special tasks to become "Special Operations Capable." Train-up, spend six months "leaning forward in your foxhole," then stand down and take a breather while other battalions take over the Ranger mission. My opinion? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I just started this thread for discussions sake.
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Horsesoldier    RE:Ranger Operations Capable   11/5/2005 9:04:15 AM
I have to agree that it ain't broke. I'd also point out that "(SOC)" designation for MEUs is definitely not the best way to do special operations, it is just a USMC public relations effort to convince Congress they were also serious about SOF and unconventional warfare while actually not being remotely serious about them at all.
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John Barry    RE:Ranger Operations Capable   11/25/2005 8:53:22 PM
In the past I’ve wondered if it’s the best use of manpower to concentrate so much elite manpower in just three battalions. There are just so many of these top guys around. It seems that the concentration in units like Delta and SF is warranted by the special capabilities these units bring. The Rangers on the other hand may be the finest Light Infantry, but they are still Light Infantry. What mission can they do that one of the parachute infantry battalions couldn’t? As it stands today the Rangers no doubt can do these missions better. However, if you took the personnel in the Ranger Battalions and infused 1800 of your hardest-chargers into the airborne battalions, coupled with an increase level of training in a cycle like longrifle mentioned, the airborne battalions could be capable of the same missions and could avoid burnout.
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Horsesoldier    RE:Ranger Operations Capable   11/27/2005 11:48:36 AM
Dissolving the Rangers into the PIRs would compromise operational capabilities, even if one does a replay of the "MEU(SOC)" concept. You still are watering down your institutional knowledge and culture, parting it out to units that don't use that skill set with sufficient frequency to maintain proficiency at the level SOCOM and JSOC require. Trying to do so violates at least a couple of the SOF truths that have guided US Special Operations Command in its development (quality is better than quantity; special operations forces cannot be mass produced) and I don't see it as being the most adaptive solution to the mission requirements. As it is you still get cross-flow of guys back out into the Big Army from the rangers, but without compromising JSOC's requirements for light infantry forces.
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Carl S    RE:Ranger Operations Capable   11/27/2005 7:04:14 PM
I'd agree with HS. The Ranger battalions as they are have a role. The MEU SOC is a different animal and does not represent what you propose for the airbourne battalions. Rotating the individuals through the Ranger units is probably a better solution. One thing that can interfere with the rotation of indivduals is if the standards are too high. If the pressure on the individual is such that too high a portion are solving burnout through simply leaving the Army then a counter productive situation exists. I other words if a excess of the top 10% or 15% of your soldiers are not reenlisting because of training pressure someone has screwed up. Similarly if there are too few volunteers for Ranger serve because of fear of the pressure then again there is a problem. In the case of the Rangers this is strictly a hypothtical argument, but I have seen it occur on a smaller scale in specific unts.
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longrifle    RE:The operational pace   11/27/2005 7:24:35 PM
I served with several men who had been in one of the Ranger Battalions. Some had completed a successful tour and some had not. Of the ones who had completed Ranger School and a successful tour, some wanted to go back and some did not. The most common complaint that I heard was not about tough PT, or hard training, or making it through Ranger School. The most common complaint was about the day to day operational pace. This came from both the hackers and the packers. As I said before, overall I don't think it's broke. But I do think that there are some good soldiers who can hack hard training and the leadership standards of Ranger School, but just don't want to be in the Regiment due to the frequency of time spent in the field. It's not they are not good enough or tough enough. That will always be a factor in how many soldiers rotate through the Regiment. Just food for thought.
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Carl S    RE:History question   11/29/2005 9:17:01 PM
When were the ranger battalions reactivated? I vaguely recall something about that in the 1970s.
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longrifle    RE:History question   11/29/2005 10:24:01 PM
Ranger Battalions reactivated: 1st- January of 1974 2nd- October of 1974 3rd- October of 1984, along with the 75th Regimental HQ
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asavery    RE:History question   12/7/2005 8:47:42 PM
On the topic of Rangers, I have come to believe that they fill an important unspoke/unwriten role, that of the link between conventional forces and "true" special forces. Yes, they are elite light infantry, but they also provide screening and experience to individuals who may go on to more select units, or are able to bring the skills they have learned back to "normal" light infantry units. Just a theory - I'm sure they exist, but I have never heard the term "career Ranger".
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shek    RE:History question   12/8/2005 12:25:38 AM
There are career Rangers. However, as a pyramidal organization, at some point, personnel have to move on because there is no longer enough positions for them as they advance into the senior ranks. As far as making other units "Ranger" capable, that is not feasible. It would require airborne skills, aviation support, 110-120% fill in the enlisted ranks to support schooling (Pre-Ranger, Ranger, etc.), injuries, relieved for standards, etc. That's just the personnel side. Then you need to equip them with the necessary equipment for all their mission sets, determine how to keep them on green cycle (and thus saddle other units with more red cycle taskings) so they can train to reach the necessary training levels. Also, you need to conduct exercises with SOCOM units so you can plug and play on ops. You need to increase your staff sizes and liasons so you can plan all this training and make the necessary coordinations. You need to synchronize your training with your USAF assets, work out JATTs (are there enough airframes to support this), etc. Bottomline, the Ranger Regiment fills a specific role, and it takes significant assets to do this. To try and expand the role of conventional units to cover down on Ranger missions isn't feasible.
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PeregrinePike    RE:Ranger Operations Capable   12/8/2005 12:59:55 PM
I had a similar sort of idea a few months back... ... though without actualy mil experience it was purely a product of fantasy. Wonder what kind of merit you would see in it? Also the Brits seem to go your way (as in elite infantry - to - special forces link) by creating the SRS... a significant change from supporting SAS with just Paras (As was done in Sierra Leone a few years back). OTOH Indians are insisting on every Infantry Regiment contributing one battalion to Rashtriya Rifles (the counter-insurgency force), so that all regiments have some counter-insurgency training on hand. (BTW Regiments there have nearly 15 battls. each and are more training and recruting groups, they never go to battle together but in brigades). It also reduces fatigue and entrenchment in COIN politics for all concerned.
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