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With specialized skills that enable them to perform a variety of operations, the 75th Ranger Regiment's primary operations are to execute direct action raids in hostile or sensitive environments worldwide, often killing or capturing high value targets. Besides direct action raids, their other missions include: airfield seizure, special reconnaissance, personnel recovery, clandestine insertion, and site exploitation. The regiment can deploy one Ranger battalion within eighteen hours of alert notification.
The Regiment's history dates back to Colonial America, when rifle companies organized by Major Robert Rogers made long-range attacks against French forces and their Indian allies and were instrumental in capturing Fort Detroit. During the American Revolutionary War, Roberts served as a Loyalist officer on the side of the Crown and many of his former Rangers served on both sides. One, General John Stark, commanded the First New Hampshire Militia, which gained fame at the Battles of Bunker Hill and Bennington. Stark later coined the phrase "Live free or die", New Hampshire's state motto.
In 1775, the Continental Congress later formed eight companies of expert riflemen 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". Perhaps the most famous Ranger unit in the Revolutionary War was Butler's Rangers, from upstate New York.
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 Illinois on horseback and by boat. Rangers participated in many skirmishes and battles with the British and their American Indian allies.
After the Civil War, more than half a century passed without Ranger units in the United States.
On 19 August 1942, fifty Rangers fought alongside Canadian and British Commandos in the ill-fated Dieppe Raid on the coast of occupied France. Three Rangers were killed and several captured. The first American soldier killed in Europe in World War II, Ranger Lieutenant E. V. Loustalot, was part of this raid. During the mission, he took command after the British captain leading the assault was killed. Loustalot scaled a steep cliff with his men, was wounded three times, but was eventually cut down by enemy crossfire in his attempts to reach the machine gun nest at the top of the cliff.
In November 1942, the entire 1st Ranger Battalion entered combat for the first time when they landed at Arzew, Algeria. The First were split into two groups in hopes of assaulting Vichy-French batteries and fortifications before the 1st Infantry Division would land on the beach. The operation was successful, and the unit sustained minimal casualties.
On 11 February 1943, the Rangers moved 32 miles (51 km) to raid an Italian encampment at Sened Station. Moving at night, the Rangers slipped to within 50 yards (46 m) of the Italian outpost and began their attack. It took the battalion only 20 minutes to overtake the garrison and achieve their objective. Fifty Italians were killed and another ten were made prisoner. Darby, along with other officers, was awarded the Silver Star Medal for this action. The battalion itself gained the nickname the "Black Death" by the Italians.
At the time, the Italians still held the pass at Djebel El Ank, located at the far east edge of El Guettar. The Rangers linked up with engineers elements of the 26th Infantry, First Infantry Division, to attack the area. The First Rangers orders were to move overland, on foot 12 miles (19 km) to outflank the enemy's position. In eight hours of fighting, the Americans captured the objective; the First Rangers took 200 prisoners.
Creation of 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions
With the success of the First Ranger Battalion during the Tunisian campaign, Darby requested that the Rangers be expanded to a full Regiment. The request was granted. The Third and Fourth Ranger Battalions were authorized shortly after and were trained and led by veteran officers and NCOs from the First Battalion. After getting the "green light" to expand, Darby ran into a problem: the Rangers only took volunteers. Darby, knowing that the best man for the job was not always a volunteer, sought out men around Oran. Although he was still limited in that he could only accept volunteers, he began to find ways around this. For instance, he began to give speeches, put up posters and encouraged his officers to scout around for eligible candidates. By June 1943, the three Ranger battalions were fully operational. 1st Rangers were still under Colonel Darby; the 3rd under Major Herman Dammer, the 4th commanded by Major Roy Murray.
1st and 4th Ranger Battalions were paired together, and positioned to spearhead General Terry Allen's 1st Division, on the Sicily campaign. Landing outside Gela, the Rangers took the town just after midnight, and were quickly sent out to San Nicola. The Rangers seized the town with the help of an armored division. Despite the fact that they were under a constant attack from enemy artillery, tank, and air forces, they still succeeded in the completion of their mission. This 50-hour barrage would be one of the most unbearable experiences for the Rangers.
Following their success, the two Ranger battalions were then ordered to take the town of Butera, a fortress suspended on the 4,000-foot (1,200 m) high edge of the cliff at Butera beach. After almost withdrawing from the battle, and requesting artillery to level the city, a platoon of Rangers volunteered to breach the city. Two privates, John See and John Constantine, sneaked in behind enemy lines and tricked the Italians and Germans into surrendering the city.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Ranger Battalion headed out into the area of Agrigento, where they marched through Campobello, Naro, and Favara, successfully occupying each town. The 3rd was ordered to back track to the shores of Porto Empedocle. The beach itself was not occupied, but high in the cliffs heavy machine gun and cannon fire poured onto the Rangers. Scrambling, the Rangers made their way to each machine gun nest and disabled all enemy opposition before the supporting infantry battalion even hit the shore.
Colonel Darby was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was promoted by General George Patton; Darby, wanting to be closer to his men, turned down this promotion.
Fall of 1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions
On 30 January 1944, after Christmas break the Rangers were put together for a joint operation, to occupy the town of Cisterna, before the main infantry division moved in. That night the 1st and 3rd battalions moved into the town, passing many German soldiers that did not appear to notice the Rangers slip by. The 4th Ranger Battalion met opposition almost immediately taking an opposite route by the road. During the night the 1st and 3rd Ranger battalions separated out about 2 miles (3.2 km), and when daylight caught the 1st Ranger Battalion out in an open field, the Germans began their ambush. Completely surrounded and unable to escape, the two Ranger battalions fought on until ammunition and resources were exhausted. The 4th Ranger Battalion tried to make a push to save their comrades but were unsuccessful and had to withdraw. After five hours of fighting, German tanks and motorized infantry defeated the Rangers. Out of the 760 men in the two battalions, only six escaped and the rest were killed or captured. US Army records indicate over 700 Ranger prisoners.
The 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions were trained at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, on 1 April 1943. They first saw action 6 June 1944, during Operation Overlord. During D-day 2nd Rangers companies D, E, and F, were ordered to take a strategic German outpost at Pointe du Hoc. This coastal cliff was supposed to have several 155 mm artillery cannons aimed down at the beach. Once they arrived at the bottom of the cliff they had an enormous climb to make up rope ladders while receiving a barrage of machinegun fire from the Germans above. The 2nd Rangers were successful in taking the area even with the intense German resistance but the guns were not in sight. A patrol scouting the area found the 155 mm coastal guns a mile away; the patrol party quickly disabled the guns and any resistance in the area. In the article "Rangers take Pointe" Leonard Lomell and Jack Kuhn are interviewed on the events that took place that day. Lomell explains
The guns had to have been taken off the Pointe. We were looking for any kind of evidence we could find and it looked like there were some markings on the secondary road where it joined the main road. We decided to leapfrog. Jack covered me, and I went forward. When I got a few feet forward, I covered him. It was a sunken road with very high hedgerows with trees and bushes and stuff like that. It was wide enough to put a column of tanks in, and they would be well hidden. We didn't see anybody, so we just took a chance, running as fast as we could, looking over the hedgerow. At least we had the protection of the high hedgerows. When it became my turn to look over, I said, "God, here they are!" They were in an orchard, camouflaged in among the trees.
Meanwhile, the rest of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions spearheaded the 2-16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, on the beach at Omaha. This is where the famous Ranger slogan comes from, when Major Max F. Schneider, commanding the 5th Ranger Battalion, met with General Norman Cota. When Schneider was asked his unit by Cota, someone yelled out "5th Rangers!", to which Cota replied, "Well then Goddammit, Rangers, lead the way!" This drive cut the German line allowing the conventional army to move in.
The 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions worked on special operation tasks in the Normandy Campaign. The two battalions fought in many battles such as Battle for Brest and the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest. The 2nd Rangers were responsible for capturing Le Conquet Peninsula, where they disabled a 280 mm gun and took many German prisoners. The 2nd Ranger Battalion also went on to take several tactical German positions, cutting the German line in the Rhineland. In Saar west of Zerf, the 5th Battalion took an overlooking German position cutting of all supply routes to German forces.
6th Ranger Battalion
The 6th Ranger Battalion was stationed in the Pacific, and served mostly in the Philippines and New Guinea. All operations completed by the 6th Battalion were done in company- or platoon-size behind enemy lines. They were the first soldiers to hit the Philippines, three days before the army would launch the first invasion. The 6th Ranger Battalion conducted long-range reconnaissance, operating miles past the front line.
At Cabanatuan, on the island of Luzon in January 1945, a company of the 6th Ranger Battalion executed the Raid at Cabanatuan. The Rangers penetrated 29 miles (47 km) behind enemy lines, including crawling a mile (1 mile (1.6 km)) across an open field on their stomachs. During their final assault the Rangers destroyed a garrison of Japanese soldiers twice their size and rescued 500 POWs.
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--scouting, patrolling, raids, ambushes, spearheading assaults, and as counterattack forces to regain lost positions. In all six airborne Ranger companies, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th, averaging 125 soldiers in each company served during the conflict. Two other companies, the 10th and 11th, were scheduled for Korea but were deactivated in Japan. During the course of the Korean War, 100 Rangers were killed in action and 296 were wounded in action.
1st Cav Rangers making commo check prior to patrol, 12 February 1968
The history of Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP--pronounced "Lurp"), LRP, and Ranger units deployed during the Cold War in Europe and Vietnam is based on three time periods: 1) LRRP from late 1965 to 20 December 1967; 2) LRP from late December 1967 through January 1969; and 3) Ranger from 1 February 1969, to 1972 when the Vietnam War drew down and the U.S. Vietnam Ranger units were deactivated. However, in 1974 their colors and lineage were passed to newly formed Ranger Battalions based in the United States.
The first period above began in Vietnam in November 1966 with the creation of a provisional LRRP Detachment by the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile); followed by the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division; the 1st Infantry Division; and the 25th Infantry Division in June 1966. General William C. Westmoreland, commander of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), ordered the creation of provisional LRRPs in all Infantry brigades and divisions on 8 July 1966. By the winter of 1966 the 4th and 9th Infantry Divisions had operational LRRP units, and in January 1967 the 196th Light Infantry Brigade had the same. The 101st Airborne Division "main body," while still at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, converted its divisional Recondo School into a provisional LRRP unit in the summer of 1967, before the division deployed to Vietnam. This provisional company arrived in Vietnam in late November 1967.
Two 1st Cav LRP Ranger teams in Quang Tri, Vietnam, 26 July 1968
The second period began in late June 1967, when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. Wheeler, authorized the formation of two long-range patrol companies for I and II Field Forces. Company E (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), 20th Infantry (Airborne) was activated on 25 September 1967 and assigned to I Field Force and stationed at Phan Rang. The nucleus of this unit came from the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division LRRP Platoon, along with soldiers from the replacement stream. Company F (Long Range Patrol), 51st Infantry (Airborne) was activated on 25 September 1967 and assigned to II Field Force stationed at Bien Hoa. Its nucleus came from the LRRP platoon of the 173d Airborne Brigade, along with soldiers from the replacement stream. Each of the two Field Force LRP companies had a strength of 230 men, and was commanded by a major. In an apparent response to division commanders' tactical requirements, and bolstered by the combat effectiveness of the provisional LRRP units, in the winter of 1967 the Army authorized separate company designations for Long Range Patrol (LRP) units in divisions and detachments in separate brigades. The divisional LRP companies were authorized 118 men and the brigade detachments 61 men. The wholesale renaming of existing divisional LRP units occurred on 20 December 1967 in the 1st Cavalry, 1st Infantry, 4th Infantry, 9th Infantry, 23d (Americal), and 25th Infantry Divisions. LRP detachments were created in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade on 10 January 1968, in the 173d Airborne Brigade on 5 February 1968, and in the 3d Brigade 82d Airborne Division and 1st Brigade 5th Mechanized Division on 15 December 1968.
On 1 February 1969, the final period of the existence of these units began when the Department of the Army redesignated the LRP companies and detachments as lettered Ranger companies of the 75th Infantry Regiment under the Combined Arms Regimental System (CARS). The "re-flagged" Ranger companies were: "A" V Corps Rangers, Fort Hood, Texas; "B" VII Corps Rangers, Fort Lewis, Washington; "C" I Field Forces, Vietnam; "D" II Field Forces, Vietnam; "E" 9th Infantry Division, Vietnam; F 25th Infantry Division, Vietnam; "G" 23rd Infantry Division, Vietnam; "H" 1st Cavalry Division, Vietnam; "I" 1st Infantry Division, Vietnam; "K" 4th Infantry Division, Vietnam; "L" 101st Airborne Division, Vietnam; "M" 199th Light Infantry Brigade, Vietnam; "N" 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vietnam; "O" 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Vietnam; "P" 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Vietnam; "D/151" Indiana National Guard; and "F/425 " Michigan National Guard. The third period ended when the Ranger companies were inactivated as their parent units were withdrawn from the war between November 1969 (starting with Company O, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division), and on 15 August 1972 (ending with Company H, 1st Cavalry Division). On 9 June 1972, H Company (Ranger) lost SGT Elvis Weldon Osborne Jr. and CPL Jeffrey Alan Maurer to enemy action. Three other US soldiers were killed by non-hostile action that day, but SGT Osborne and CPL Maurer were the last US Army infantrymen killed on the ground, as well as the last Rangers killed in the Vietnam War.
Rangers from 1/75 during a training exercise 1989-1990 1LT Joe Yorio, CPT Jeff Jarkowsky and SSG Paul Johnson
In January 1974, General Creighton Abrams, Army Chief of Staff, directed the formation of a Ranger battalion. General Kenneth C. Leuer was charged with activating, organizing, training and leading the first battalion sized Ranger unit since World War II. The 1st Ranger Battalion was activated and parachuted into Fort Stewart, Georgia, on 1 July 1974. The 2nd Ranger Battalion followed with activation on 1 October 1974. The 3rd Ranger Battalion and Headquarters Company received their colors on 3 October 1984, at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 75th Ranger Regiment was designated in February 1986.
The modern Ranger battalions were first called upon in 1980 when elements of 1st Ranger Battalion participated in Operation Eagle Claw, the Iranian hostage rescue mission. In October 1983, 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions spearheaded Operation Urgent Fury, conducting a dangerous low-level parachute assault to seize Point Salines Airfield and rescue American citizens at True Blue Medical Campus in Grenada.
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 various weapons.
Elements of Company B, and 1st Platoon Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion, deployed to Saudi Arabia from 12 February 1991 to 15 April 1991, in support of Operation Desert Storm. They conducted raids and provided a quick reaction force in cooperation with Allied forces. In December 1991, 1/75 and the Regimental headquarters deployed to Kuwait in a show of force known as Operation Iris Gold. The Rangers performed an airborne assault onto Ali Al Salem airfield, near Kuwait City, conducted a 50 km (31 mi) foot march through devastation (including mine fields) left from the ground campaign, conducted a live fire exercises and exfiltrated by foot.
In August 1993, elements of 3rd Ranger Battalion deployed to Somalia to assist United Nations forces attempting to bring order to the chaotic and starving nation. On 3 October 1993, the Rangers conducted a daylight raid with Delta Force. The Battle of Mogadishu ended in chaos as the American forces were trapped for hours inside the city by Somalian militias, due to a series of planning and commanding errors, resulting in the death of several American soldiers. Nevertheless, the Rangers held improvised positions for nearly 18 hours, killing between 500 and 1,000 Somalis before UN-troops with tanks reached them and the American troops could start a coordinated retreat. The mission was accomplished as the high-value targets were captured, but is seen as pyrrhic victory
The Regimental Special Troops Battalion (RSTB) was activated on 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 is part of the shift of the Ranger force's focus from short term "contingency missions" towards continuous combat operations without loss in lethality or flexibility.
In October 2007, a D Company was added to each of the three battalions of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
As of 2012, the 75th Ranger Regiment is conducting sustained combat operations in multiple countries, deploying from multiple locations in the United States--an unprecedented task for the regiment. Rangers continue conducting combat operations with almost every deployed special operation force, conventional and coalition force in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Ranger Regiment executes a wide range of diverse operations that include airborne and air assaults into Afghanistan and Iraq, mounted infiltrations behind enemy lines, complex urban raids on high-value targets (HVTs), and rescue operations. Ranger battalion operational tempo while deployed is high. The 1st Ranger Battalion conducted more than 900 missions in Afghanistan in one deployment: the battalion successfully captured nearly 1,700 enemy combatants (386 high-value targets) and killed more than 400. While the Ranger Regiment has traditionally been considered an elite light infantry force, operations over the past decade have demonstrated the Rangers' capabilities of conducting a full range of special operations missions.
By mid-2015 each Ranger battalion had completed its twentieth deployment in support of both Afghanistan and Iraq operations.
Army Times reported that in December 2016, the first female officer completed RASP, making the 75th Ranger Regiment the first special operations unit to have a female soldier graduate its selection course.
Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan
After the events of 11 September 2001, Rangers were again called into action, in support of the War on Terror. Ranger protection force teams were part of Task Force Sword, the TF was a black SOF unit, whose primary objective was of capturing or killing senior leadership and HVT within both al-Qaeda and the Taliban. On 19 October 2001, 200 Rangers of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment spearheaded ground forces by conducting an airborne assault to seize Objective Rhino during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan; Spc. Jonn J. Edmunds and Pfc. Kristofer T. Stonesifer were the first combat casualties in the War on Terror when their MH-60L helicopter crashed at Objective Honda in Pakistan, a temporary staging site used by a company of Rangers from 3rd Battalion. A squadron of Delta Force operatives, supported by Rangers from TF Sword conducted an operation outside of Kandahar at a location known as Objective Gecko, the target of the mission was missed but the Delta Force operators and Rangers engaged a large Taliban force which developed into a heavy firefight, killing some 30 Taliban fighters. In November 2001, the 75th Ranger Regiment carried out its second combat parachute drop into Afghanistan: a platoon-sized Ranger security element, including the Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment Team 3 conducted the missions: Objective Wolverine, Raptor and Operation Relentless Strike. During the Battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, a CIA Jawbreaker team (small group of CIA SAD ground branch operators) requested that the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment be inserted into the mountains to establish blocking positions along potential escape routes out of Tora Bora into Pakistan. They would serve as an 'anvil' whilst Green Berets with the AMF (Afghan Militia Forces) would be the 'Hammer,' with attached Air Force Combat Controllers, the Rangers could direct airstrikes onto enemy concentrations or engage them in ambushes, but this was denied.
In March 2002, 35 Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment had been assigned as QRF for all Task Force operations, but only half of the platoon was available for the Battle of Takur Ghar. In the final days of Operation Anaconda, a mixed force of Rangers travelling in Blackhawk helicopters backed up operators from DEVGRU who intercepted a convoy of al-Qaeda fighters traveling in three SUVs via three MH-47Es, after an ensuing firefight, 16 al-Qaeda fighters were killed and two seriously wounded were captured. On 18 August, US Army Rangers and other coalition special forces joined the 82nd Airborne Division in Operation Mountain Sweep, carrying out five combat air assault missions on the area around the villages of Dormat and Narizah, south of Khowst and Gardez. The force found an anti aircraft gun, two 82mm mortars, recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, small arms and ammunition for all of them and detained 10 people. Later in 2002, a small JSOC element was established to replace TF 11; it was manned by SEALs and Rangers to carry out a similar role to its predecessor.
In 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in a joint CIA and ISI operation in Pakistan and had to be flown out to a US black site prison. Companies from the US Army Rangers and 82nd Airborne Division secured an improvised desert strip in a dry river bed near the Pakistani border, and an MC-130 Combat Talon plane landed and lowered its ramp. SEALs from DEVGRU appeared in Desert Patrol Vehicles carrying the detainee arrived and drove up the ramp into the back of the plane, which then taxied and lifted off.
In July 2006, in Helmand Province, two MH-47Es from 160th SOAR attempted to insert a combined strike element of DEVGRU, Rangers and Afghan commandos so they could attack a target compound. With some troops on the ground, a large insurgent force ambushed them, both helicopters were struck by small arms fire. One MH-47E pilot put his aircraft directly in the line of fire protecting the other MH-47E whose assault team it was carrying was still disembarking. Inevitably the MH-47E was hit by an RPG which caused it to crash-land; the skill of the pilots saved the operators and the aircrew, and no one was seriously wounded in the crash. The Ranger commander and an attached Australian Commando organized an all-round defense while the other MH-47E held back the advancing insurgents until its Miniguns ran out of ammunition. An AC-130 Spectre joined the battle and kept the downed crew and passengers safe until a British Immediate Response Team helicopter successfully recovered them. The AC-130 then destroyed the MH-47E wreck - denying it to the Taliban. Also that year, a six-man RRD (Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment) team from the 75th Ranger Regiment attached to the JSOC Task Force inserted into the Hindu Kush mountain range after intelligence indicated an insurgent chief, Haqqani, would be entering Afghanistan from Pakistan. After establishing an OP at a position almost 4,000 meters above sea level, the RRD team waited and watched for their target. As insurgents arrived into the area, the Ranger team was spotted and fired upon. In response, the RRD's attached JTAC called in an orbiting B-1B strategic bomber to 'pummel' the insurgents, an estimated 100 were killed in the airstrikes but Haqqani was not among them.
In 2007, a CIA source reported seeing Bin Laden in Tora Bora, a significant proportion of the ISR assets available in the theatre converged on the area, the initial plan based around a small helicopter assault force soon expanded to include Green Beret ODAs and a Ranger element to provide a cordon for the SEALs. Eventually the operation was launched under the cover of Air Force bombing, but after fruitless searching through the mountains, there was no sign of him.
In June 2009, US Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban, over the 5 years that he was held by the Taliban and Haqqani Network, Rangers and DEVGRU "spun up" operations to rescue him, but each resulted in a "dry hole".
On 8 October 2010, a troop from DEVGRU and two squads of Rangers conducted a rescue attempt to rescue Linda Norgrove who was being held by the Taliban in compounds in the Korangal Valley, the rescue mission failed when Nosgrove was accidentally killed by a grenade thrown by a DEVGRU operator. For actions between 14 and 16 November 2010, Charlie Company 1/75th, received the Valorous Unit Award for extraordinary heroism, combat achievement and conspicuous gallantry while executing combat operations in support of a named operation.
With ISAFs surge in Afghanistan at its peak in summer 2011, for actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom between 15 May - 28 August 2011, that included: conducting continuous combat operations, including time sensitive raids and deliberate movement to contact operations while in enemy held terrain out of reach by other friendly forces, in places like Khost, Paktika and Nangarhar Province, the 1/75th received the Meritorious Unit Citation in particular its Bravo Company received the Valorous Unit Award; two Rangers from the battalion were killed during this time. On 20 July, Delta Force supported by Rangers and Afghan SOF elements were inserted by the 160th SOAR into the mountainous region of Sar Rowzah District, Paktika Province. They were immediately engaged by insurgents that were heavily armed with DShK HMGs and RPGs, during that night's fighting, approximately 30 insurgents were killed, as the sun rose, dozens of remaining insurgents who had been hiding in bunkers and caves became visible, and armed UAV, AH-6s and DAPs flew in close air support, as did ground attack aircraft. Fighting continued into a second day as bunkers and fighting positions were systematically cleared, some with then-recently issued Mk14 Antistructural Grenades, an estimated 80 to 100 Haqqani and foreign fighters were killed in the two-day battle. On 6 August, a CH-47 carrying 38 American and Afghan servicemen was to be inserted to support a platoon of U.S. Army Rangers who were taking fire while on a mission to capture a senior Taliban leader in the Tangi Valley, Wardak province, however it was shot down by the Taliban, killing 38 US and Afghan servicemen it is considered the worst loss of American lives in a single incident in the Afghanistan campaign.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all three Ranger Battalions were assigned to a new Task Force. It was based on the concept of a prior successful Task Force, and its task was to seize key locations, long distance Special Reconnaissance and capturing HVTs. On 24 March 2003, 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment conducted a combat drop onto H-1 Air Base, securing the site as a staging area for operations in western Iraq. A company of Rangers and Royal Marines from 45 Commando flew into Iraq from Jordan to secure H-2 and H-3 airbases after they were captured by US, British and Australian SOF. On 26 March, B Company, 2/75th supported DEVGRU operators in the Objective Beaver raid on suspected chemical and biological weapons site north of Haditha, they engaged numerous gunmen but there was no chemical or biological weapons at the site. On 1 April 2003, 290 Rangers from 1/75th and 2/75th took part in the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch; also that day Delta Force and 3/75th captured the Haditha Dam and held it for a further 5 days.
Following the invasion, the main 75th Ranger element deployed to Iraq carried out operations in northern Iraq and were based out of Mosul or Tikrit, supported by a small element of Delta Force operators. The DEVGRU squadron were supported by a reinforced Ranger platoon as was the Delta Force squadron, as part of the overall effort by JSOC in Iraq. On 18 June 2003, Delta Force operators and US Army Rangers flew from Mosul via helicopter to chase a vehicle convoy of Ba'ath party Iraqis who were escaping over the border into Syria; JSOC suspected that Saddam Hussein was part of the convoy, the convoy was destroyed by an AC-130 Spectre, then the operators conducted a heliborne assault into a nearby compound that proved to be a Ba'athist safe house for ferrying former regime elements across the border. The operators came under fire from Syrian border guards, leading to a firefight that left several Syrians dead and 17 captured. Ultimately, Hussein was not in the convoy, but several of his cousins were.
Rangers conduct a security halt in Iraq, 26 April 2007.
On 1 January 2006, Rangers raided a remote farmhouse outside Baghdad (one of a large number of raids planned that night), the operation almost didn't launch because mechanical problems plagued one of its helicopters. The Rangers reached the farmhouse and breached it, they captured several gunmen without a fight and rescued British freelance journalist Phillip Sands, who had been kidnapped a week earlier. In Ramadi, the Rangers were often forced to launch daylight raids on insurgents despite the risks, as they were finding that their targets were moving out of the city at night to avoid their raids.
In November 2006, a new secret directive sanctioned by President Bush had allowed US forces in Iraq to kill or capture Iranian nationals if they were engaged in targeting Coalition forces due to Hezbollah success in the 2006 Lebanon War and Iran's defiance on its nuclear issue; the new mission was known by its acronym CII (Counter Iranian Influence). A new command based around the headquarters of an Army Special Forces group was formed, codenamed: Task Force 17, which given the CII missions. In an attempt to support TF 17, Rangers from B Company 2/75th, launched a raid into Sadr City to hunt a Shia Special Groups leader, leading to a fierce street battle with the Rangers conducting a fighting withdrawal that was likened to "Mogadishu Mile." More than 45 insurgents were killed with no Ranger losses; when the Iraqi government was made aware of the operation, permission to conduct operations in Sadr City was immediately withdrawn, placing greater constrain on the Task Force's targeting.
In June 2008, Rangers eliminated perhaps their highest profile target: Abu Khalaf (the second in command of al Qaeda in Iraq), the house he was in was codenamed Objective Crescent Lake, a reinforced platoon of Rangers were tasked with assaulting the target house. As the Ranger assault element placed their explosive breaching charges, two sentries on the roof of the house armed with AK-47 assault rifles approached them, who were then killed by an attached 4-man sniper team from the Ranger battalion's sniper platoon. The assault element breached the house and methodically cleared each room, in one room, Rangers arrested a man and a woman, whilst restraining the man, he reached under his clothing and fearing he was grabbing for a weapon the Rangers shot him dead, the woman leapt on his body and was also shot and killed. When both bodies were searched, the man was found to be wearing a suicide-bomb vest filled with ball bearings that he and the woman had tried detonating. During the shooting, Khalaf ran to the road, armed with a pistol, only to be shot dead by the Ranger sniper team; during the SSE, the Rangers also discovered a plan for a chemical weapon attack on a coalition base. By this time, the Rangers had been forced to deploy an additional platoon to Iraq to allow them to conduct a day-and-night raiding cycle, and conducted up to 100 missions in one three-month deployment. However, with the commencement of Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in January 2009, JSOC and Ranger operations were further curtailed, with Iraqi judicial permission now having to be required for each mission.
On 18 April 2010, ISOF troops, supported by US troops, carried out a night-time raid on a terrorist safe house near Tikrit in Iraq, the ISOF killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the two leaders of ISI; 16 others were also arrested. A US UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter supporting the mission crashed killing a Ranger NCO from 3/75th and wounding the aircrew.
War in North-West Pakistan
In March 2006, DEVGRU operators and a Ranger element carried out an operation allegedly under the code name Operation Vigilant Harvest. Their target was an al-Qaeda training camp in North Waziristan in Pakistan, they were flown across the Afghan-Pakistan border. The force killed as many as 30 terrorists, including the Chechen camp commandant Imam Asad. The operation has been falsely credited to the Pakistani Special Service Group.
On 1 May 2011, a Ranger element was assigned to support Operation Neptune Spear, the Ranger element and additional SEALs in MH-47E Chinooks would be brought forward as QRF if needed; the Ranger element would also protect the FARP north of Abbottabad. Following the successful completion of the operation, a Ranger team transported the body of Osama Bin Laden to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for burial at sea.
Operation Freedom's Sentinel
In November 2015, the U.S. military sent a company of Rangers to southeastern Afghanistan, as part of the Post ISAF phase of the war in Afghanistan, to help Afghan counter-terrorism forces destroy an al-Qaeda training camp in a "fierce fight" that lasted for several days.
It was reported that on the evening of 26 April 2017, 50 Rangers from 3/75th joined 40 Afghan commandos to conduct a joint US-Afghan operation/raid that was targeting the headquarters of Abdul Hasib, the Emir of ISIS-K, in a village in Achin District, Nangarhar Province. The force was flown into Mohmand Valley and within minutes were engaged in a heavy, close-quarter firefight, AC-130 gunships, Apache helicopters, F-16 fighters and drones were called in to support the force firefight with ISIL-KP militants. The firefight lasted for 3 hours, resulting in 2 Rangers from C and D Companies died of injuries (possibly caused by friendly fire) after being medevaced and a third was also wounded, 35 (including Abdul Hasib and an unspecified number of ISIL-KP leaders) ISIL-KP militants were also killed.
Operation Inherent Resolve
In March 2017, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, CNN reported that approximately 100 US Army Rangers in Strykers and armored Humvees, deployed in and around Manbij, Syria, to deter hostilities towards the deployment of the 11th MEU, whose purpose was to support (particularly providing artillery support) US-backed forces in the battle to liberate Raqqa from ISIL, rather than the typical mission of training, advising and assisting local forces. US officials took the unusual step of publicly talking about the Ranger deployment and where they are located to protect against them inadvertently coming under fire from forces fighting in the region or Turkish, Russian or Syrian Government forces.
U.S. Army Rangers, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, prepare for extraction during Task Force Training at Fort Hunter Liggett, California, 30 January 2014.
Be a U.S. citizen
Be on Active Duty and Volunteer for assignment
Have a General Technical Score of 105 or higher
No physical limitations (PULHES of 111221 or better)
Qualify and volunteer for Airborne training
A person of good character (no pending UCMJ action or drug or alcohol related incidents within 24 months)
Must enlist into or currently hold a Military Occupational Specialty found in the 75th Ranger Regiment
Able to attain at minimum a Secret clearance
Pass physical requirements which include the Ranger Fitness Test (58 push-ups, 69 sit-ups, run 5 miles in 40 minutes or less, 6 pull-ups), Water Survival Assessment, and 12-mile Footmarch with a 35lb rucksack and weapon in under 3 hours
Hold an officer Military Occupational Specialty found in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Selection and training
Every volunteer for the Regiment, from every new recruit to every officer and any senior leader selected to command in the Regiment, will go through the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) to assess their ability and provide the basic skills required to be an effective member of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
For new soldiers, RASP is conducted after applicants successfully complete their basic Military Occupational Specialty course and graduate from the Army's Parachutists Course (Airborne School). For soldiers, both enlisted and officer, who have successfully completed their first tour of duty, and meet the recruiting qualifications, a RASP date will be scheduled upon application and conditional acceptance to the 75th Ranger Regiment.
RASP is broken down into two levels of training: RASP 1 for junior non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers (pay grades E-1 through E-5) and RASP 2 for senior non-commissioned officers, officers and warrant officers. Candidates train on physical fitness, marksmanship, small unit tactics, medical proficiency and mobility. Training is fast-paced and intense, ensuring Ranger candidates are prepared to employ their skills in both continued training and worldwide operations upon reaching their assigned Ranger unit. Throughout the course all candidates will be screened to ensure that only the best soldiers are chosen for service in the Ranger Regiment. Regardless of the course, all candidates must meet the course requirements in order to serve in the Ranger Regiment. Upon successful completion of RASP, candidates will don the tan beret and 75th Ranger Regiment Scroll.
Ranger Assessment & Selection Program 1 (RASP 1) is an 8-week selection course for junior non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers (pay grades E-1 through E-5) that is broken down into two phases. Ranger candidates will learn the basics of what it takes to become a member of an elite fighting force by a grueling test of physical and mental endurance, road marches with rucksacks, land navigation, leadership skills, and weapons training--performed under continuous food and sleep deprivation. Graduates will achieve the advanced skills all Rangers are required to know to start their career with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Phase 1 focuses more on the critical events and skill level 1 tasks and Phase 2 focuses on training in marksmanship, breaching, mobility, and physical fitness.
Ranger Assessment & Selection Program 2 (RASP 2) is a 21-day selection course for senior non-commissioned officers, officers, and warrant officers. Candidates are tested on their physical and mental capabilities while learning the special tactics, techniques and procedures of the Regiment, as well as learning the expectations of leading and developing young Rangers.
To maintain readiness, Rangers train constantly. Rangers focus on the Big 5: marksmanship, physical training, medical training, small unit tactics and mobility.
Throughout their time in the Ranger Regiment, Rangers may attend many types of special schools and training. Depending on occupation and job requirements, members of the 75th Ranger Regiment enjoy unparalleled access to countless military schools, including Jumpmaster, Sniper, Pathfinder, Military Freefall, Scuba, Survival-Evasion-Resistance-Escape (SERE), Special Operations Combat Medic and others. Before serving in a leadership role within the Regiment, Rangers are also expected to attend and graduate Ranger School. Additionally, members of the regiment at all levels are afforded opportunities for joint training and non-traditional military and civilian schooling.
Rangers are trained in "do-it-yourself" emergency medicine. Based on the premise that 90% of deaths from wounds are suffered before reaching medical facilities and that there are not enough medics and doctors to go around, the regiment began to train Rangers to give themselves immediate, preliminary treatment. A 2011 study found a 3 percent death rate from potentially survivable causes in the 75th Regiment between October 2001 and April 2010. That compares with a 24 percent rate in a previously reported set of U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, which included troops who didn't have the Ranger-style training.
As a U.S. Army Special Operations Command unit, the Rangers maintain more stringent standards for their personnel. If at any point a Ranger is deemed to be failing to meet these standards he may be relieved and removed from the regiment. This is commonly referred to as being RFSed, short for "Released For Standards". A Ranger can be RFS'd for virtually any reason, ranging from lack of motivation to disciplinary problems. Similarly, a Ranger physically incapable of performing his mission through prolonged illness or injury can also be removed from the regiment through a process referred to as RFM or "Relieved For Medical reasons".
Honors, mottos and creed
The 75th Ranger Regiment has been credited with numerous campaigns from World War II onwards. In World War II, they participated in 16 major campaigns, spearheading the campaigns in Morocco, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio and Leyte. During the Vietnam War, they received campaign participation streamers for every campaign in the war. The regiment received streamers with arrowheads (denoting conflicts they spearheaded) for Grenada and Panama. To date, the Rangers have earned six Presidential Unit Citations, nine Valorous Unit Awards, and four Meritorious Unit Commendation, the most recent of which were earned in Vietnam and Haditha, Iraq, respectively.
Sua Sponte, Latin for Of their own accord is the 75th Ranger Regiment's Regimental motto. Contemporary rangers are triple-volunteers: for the U.S. Army, for Airborne School, and for service in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The motto "Rangers lead the way!" dates from 6 June 1944, during the Normandy Landings on Dog White sector of Omaha Beach. Then Brigadier GeneralNorman Cota (assistant CO of the 29th ID) calmly walked towards Maj. Max Schneider (CO of the 5th Ranger Battalion) while under heavy machine gun fire and asked "What outfit is this?" Someone yelled "5th Rangers!" To this, Cota replied "Well then Goddammit, Rangers! Lead the way!"
The term "Ranger"
Organizations define the term "Ranger" in different ways. For example, the annual "United States Army Best Ranger Competition," hosted by the Ranger Training Brigade, can be won by pairs of participants from the 75th Ranger Regiment, or by ranger-qualified entrants from other units in the U.S. military. For an individual to be inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Association's "Ranger Hall of Fame," he "must have served in a Ranger unit in combat or be a successful graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School." The Ranger Association further clarifies the type of unit: "A Ranger unit is defined as those Army units recognized in Ranger lineage or history." Acceptance into the U.S. Army Ranger Association is limited to "Rangers that have earned the U.S. Army Ranger tab, WWII Rangers, Korean War Rangers, Vietnam War Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol members and Rangers, and all Rangers that participated in Operations Urgent Fury, Just Cause, Desert Storm, Restore Hope, Enduring Freedom, as well as those who have served honorably for at least one year in a recognized Ranger unit."
Ranger term controversy
There is some dispute over the use of the word "Ranger." According to John Lock,
The problems of the Ranger Tab and indeed Ranger history is in large part caused by the lack of a clear-cut definition of who is a Ranger. The Ranger Department, the Infantry School, and Department of the Army have in the past carelessly accepted the definition of a Ranger unit to include the use of terms 'Ranger-type' and 'Units like Rangers,' and 'Special Mission Units.' In his book Raiders or Elite Infantry, David Hogan of the Center of Military History writes that 'By the time of the formation of LRRP units..., Ranger had become a term of legendary connotations but no precise meaning.' For the want of a definition of who and what is a Ranger, integrity was lost. As a result of Grenada, circumstances have changed. Since 1983, men have had the opportunity to earn and wear an authorized Ranger unit scroll or an authorized Ranger Tab or both. But there is a need for a firm definition of who and what constitutes a RANGER. Without that definition, we face the likelihood of future controversy.
COL Richard D. Clarke wearing the Regiment's tan beret. The tan beret may only be worn by those assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment or have served in the Regiment for one year and are assigned to a unit within USASOC.
In June 2001, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki gave the order to issue black berets to regular soldiers. At the time, black berets were being worn exclusively by the Ranger Regiment. This created discontent within the 75th Ranger Regiment and even led to retired Rangers going on nationwide road marches to Washington, D.C. to protest against the decision. Because there was not 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' Rangers during the French and Indian War. A memorandum for the purpose of changing the Ranger beret from black to tan was sent and approved in March 2002. Press releases were issued and articles were published all over the nation about this change in headgear after it was formally announced by the Regimental Commander, Colonel P. K. Keen. In a private ceremony, past and present Rangers donned the tan beret on 26 July 2002. The Army G-1 released a memorandum in October 2017 stating the following: WEAR OF THE TAN BERET OUTSIDE OF RANGER REGIMENT. The memo from the Army G-1 expands authorization for wear of the Tan Beret in the following assignments: Headquarters elements of Combatant Commands, The Joint Staff, Department of the Army Headquarters, U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command Joint Task Force, Theater Special Operations Command, and Joint Special Operations Command. The Tan Beret is authorized for Ranger-qualified Soldiers in the above listed assignments if they previously served in the 75th Ranger Regiment and departed on honorable terms. This change will be reflected in the next update of DA Pam 670-1.
John P. Abizaid, General, former platoon leader of Company A, and executive officer of Company C, former commander of Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion; former commander, Central Command.
David Barno, Lieutenant General, former commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion; former commander, Combined Forces-Afghanistan.
Mat Best, former team leader in 2nd Ranger Battalion, best selling author, music artist, celebrity/actor, and veteran entrepreneur.
Richard D. Clarke, General, spent eight years in the 75th Ranger Regiment as a company commander from 1994 to 1996, then as a battalion commander from 2004 to 2006 and regimental commander from 2007 to 2009.
Eric L. Haney, Command Sergeant Major, Author and retired member of Delta Force.
Robert L. Howard, Colonel, former company commander in the 2nd Ranger Battalion; was nominated three times for the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. Two were downgraded and the third was awarded.
Thomas Payne, Sergeant Major, Member of Delta Force and Medal of Honor recipient. He is the first living Delta Force Medal of Honor recipient, and first Medal of Honor recipient for Operation Inherent Resolve. He served with MSG Joshua Wheeler in the combat operation in Iraq that saw MSG Wheeler KIA, and then-SFC Payne earned Distinguished Service Cross, later upgraded to Medal of Honor. He served with Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion.
James Earl Rudder, Colonel, former commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion during World War II, which he led the ranger assault on Pointe du Hoc on D-Day and was later the president of Texas A&M University.
Raymond A. Thomas, General, led a Ranger Rifle platoon from A Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion during the Invasion of Grenada in 1983.He was assigned as Assistant S-3, Plans/Liaison Officer with 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia until 1987.In 1989, during the Invasion of Panama, Thomas was then assigned as a company commander with 3rd Ranger Battalion. He was also the commander of Joint Special Operations Command from 2014 to 2016 and United States Special Operations Command from 2016 to 2019.
Pat Tillman, Corporal, an American football player who left his National Football League career to enlist in the United States Army in May 2002; killed on 22 April 2004 (by friendly fire) as a member of the 2nd Ranger Battalion.
Vincent "Rocco" Vargas, Sergeant First Class, American actor, producer, and writer who served 3 combat tours, with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Alejandro Villanueva, Captain, an American football player in the National Football League, former company Executive Officer in the 1st Ranger Battalion.
Joshua Lloyd Wheeler, Master Sergeant, (22 November 1975 - 22 October 2015) was a United States Army Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (aka Delta Force) operator who was killed in Iraq during Operation Inherent Resolve. He was the first American service member killed in action as a result of enemy fire while fighting ISIS militants and at the time of his death was the first American to be killed in action in Iraq since November 2011. Wheeler was a highly decorated Delta Force soldier having earned 11 Bronze Star Medals including four with Valor Devices. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and the Medal of Patriotism.
Note: The above list accounts for 19 Colonels, missing are the first two. Assignment dates are based on various biographies and not all line up properly. Specific dates are based on reports of changes of command.
^Ankony, Robert C., "They Saw Us First", Patrolling, 75th Ranger Regiment Association, Winter 2014, vol 28. issue 1.
^ abRanger Handbook, Ranger Training Brigade, United States Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning, Georgia (2000).
^"Biography of Captain Church". Ranger Hall of Fame. United States Army. Archived from the original on 8 April 2005. Church commanded an independent Ranger company during King Philip's War (1675-1678) on the New England frontier where they conducted highly successful combat operations against Indians. Church's men were the first Rangers successful in raiding the Indians' hiding places within the forests and swamps.
^ abcdefghijklmnoMcGowen, Sam (January 1997). "Darby's Rangers surrounded at Cistema, World War II". 11 (5). Academic Search Complete: 38. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
^1st Ranger Battalion". U.S. Army Ranger Association. Fort Benning, GA. 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014.