After months of planning and deliberations, the 75th Ranger Regiment has been deployed to Syria to participate in the war against ISIS as the coalition closes in on the so-called caliphate’s capital city of Raqqa.  Yesterday, the first images emerged of Stryker armored vehicles on their way to Manbij.  This comes weeks after Rangers deployed to theater with their Strykers and elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment had been passing through Kurdistan.

By looking at the call sign tag on the back of the Stryker, it is evident that this is 3rd Ranger Battalion out of Fort Benning, Georgia, which has been confirmed via other sources.  3/75 has often spearheaded incursions into foreign countries for the Regiment, such as a conducting combat jumps into Afghanistan and Iraq during the invasions.  The reason for this is because 3/75 is co-located on Fort Benning with the Regimental headquarters, making planning and coordinating easier since the other two Ranger battalions are stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia and Fort Lewis, Washington.

The callsign “R3” displayed on the Stryker spotted in Syria is a naming convention first started by 2nd Ranger Battalion in Iraq in 2005.  They chose R to stand for Mount Rainier which is near their home base in Washington state.  After the R, the other eight-wheeled Strykers in the Ranger element are numbered in sequential order.  When other Ranger battalions rotated into theater to use the same Strykers, they called them Rico instead of Rainier.  In this case, 3/75 is leading the way into Syria for the Regiment.

While some have speculated that the Rangers have been deployed as a deterrence against Turkish airstrikes, the 75th would not normally be sent in on this type of passive mission which any regular Military Police unit can and does perform in places like Poland or Estonia.  The appearance of Rangers in Syria represents an escalation of force against ISIS, in a conflict that America has thus far leaned on 5th Special Forces Group and Delta Force to conduct in a clandestine manner.

Previously, 5th Special Forces Group requested help from Rangers on multiple occasions to assist with maintaining site security at facilities in Turkey where they were training Arab rebel groups, mostly due to the fact that many of them were Jihadi sympathizers.  The request for the 75th Ranger Regiment was denied by higher levels and physical security was improved at these sites as a stop gap to hopefully prevent incidents of green on blue attacks.

During the recent Manbij offensive this summer, elements from Delta Force’s D-Squadron and Kurdish forces pushed across the Euphrates River on Zodiacs and with armored vehicles loaded onto barges.  Once on the opposite side of the river, they quickly took incoming fire from up to 15 US-supplied TOW missiles that ISIS had acquired through the FSA proxies that they use to gain access to American weaponry.  A TOW missile sailed through the wind shield of one of Delta’s Hilux Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles and took out two other NSTVs behind it.  This JSOC element had also requested Rangers only to be turned down.