It wasn’t until I left the Ranger Regiment to attend Special Forces training that I began to realize how highly respected the Regiment is, not just in the Special Operations community, but throughout the entire Army. I spent some time thinking about why Rangers are held in such high esteem by their fellow soldiers.
The Ranger Regiment never had a very good Public Relations machine in my opinion. Everyone knows about Navy SEALs. They make movies, TV shows, and video games about them. Mention the name SEAL to a civilian and they will tell you unequivocally that SEALs are the best there is. Mention Rangers and they will respond, “What, you mean like forest rangers?” Folks don’t just fail to understand what Rangers do in combat, but they also have no idea that the Ranger Regiment even exists. Hell, a new non-fiction book comes out about SEALs every month or two. I don’t think a single non-fiction book has been written about Rangers fighting the War on Terror. Since 9/11, we’ve even seen books about Delta Force and SEAL Team Six, but nothing about Rangers!
To some extent we are a victim of our own creation. The Ranger Regiment is a small community and it is also a closed community. The 3rd Ranger Battalion and 75th Ranger Regiment compound is surrounded by a brown fence that you can’t see through. The culture of the Regiment is that you simply don’t speak about the job outside of the brown fence. You certainly don’t speak about the job to someone who doesn’t work behind the fence. Young Rangers who violate this code are often kicked out of the unit for violating OPSEC and sent to Korea or 82nd Airborne.
This brings me back to what makes the Ranger Regiment unique amongst other Army, and even SOF units to a large extent. The difference is the Ranger Standard.
Every unit claims to have standards. There are PT standards, uniform standards, and most importantly, performance standards that apply in both training and combat. The Ranger Creed itself lays out the law; When in doubt just consult the Ranger Creed as a preacher would consult the Bible. What further separates the Regiment from other units is not just the Ranger Creed, but more importantly it is this: Our standards are enforced.
If you fail to meet the Ranger Standard, you will be RFS’ed, or Released For Standards. Like the Private that runs around bragging about some mission he was on, Rangers who fail to perform will soon be kicked out and sent to another unit. This ensures the high morale and combat readiness of the unit. Non-performers and screw ups are sent packing.
For those looking to join the Regiment, be prepared to live up to the Ranger Standard every day. When I was in 3rd Ranger Battalion, we always had a handful of Privates in my Company doing clean up details while they waited for their RFS paperwork to be processed. Don’t be that guy!