The 75th Ranger Regiment deploys more often, but for shorter durations than conventional military units. The Operations Tempo, or OpTempo, is so high that it is necessary to frequently rotate Rangers in and out of combat theaters to give them time to recuperate.
One thing people should keep in mind is that no two combat deployments are alike. You can spend your entire deployment doing back to back missions, rolling outside the wire and getting into fire fights several times a night. On the other hand, you could end up somewhere that is relatively pacified and you spend your days training out at the range, doing PT, playing video games, and knocking out some college courses online.
This is the gods’ honest truth about combat deployments, not only with Rangers, but with any unit, that you won’t hear about on CNN. The intensity of the deployment depends on a number of factors. Expect to see combat and see it often, but also expect the unexpected. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that the moment you let your guard down in that “pacified” area is when your convoy will get hit with an IED.
Rangers usually deploy in platoon or company strength but can also work together as a battalion or regiment when the mission profile calls for it. Since the Global War On Terror (GWOT) began, the Regiment has evolved quickly and effectively to counter the threats found on the modern battlefield.
While in the past Rangers were trained to conduct raids, ambushes, and airfield seizures, today they are conducting combat operations at a higher level of sophistication while still staying proficient on the basics. Maintaining an emphasis on small unit tactics, the Ranger Regiment has also moved into operational realms that were once the sole purview of Tier One Special Operations units such as Delta Force and SEAL Team Six.
Since 9/11, every unit in the military has had to step up their game and Rangers are no exception.
On the modern battlefield, Rangers are the Army’s premier raid force. I was fortunate enough to be a member of 3rd Ranger Battalion as an Anti-Tank (Carl Gustaf) gunner, sniper, and team leader in Weapons Squad. Trust me, these guys have raids down to a science. On multiple occasions, my teammates pulled terrorists out of their beds and flex cuffed them before they even woke up. That’s how precise Rangers have become in this war.
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Rangers train constantly while in garrison. Typically, the attitude is that spending two or three nights out at the range is a more efficient use of time rather than driving back and forth everyday, so it isn’t uncommon to work three or four days straight before being released for a three or four day weekend. After the range, there will usually be some recovery and refit time to clean weapons, maintain equipment, and tend to administrative issues before going back out to the field.
A normal day will start with a morning formation at 0700 for accountability purposes before physical training. At times, your platoon or company may have a competition, which is often some insane combination of ruck marching, running, swimming, and land navigation, followed up by a stress shoot out on the range. On normal days, PT is squad led with your squad leader or team leader taking their privates out for whatever PT events he has planned. Ruck marches are usually conducted on Thursdays.
After PT, you could be preparing for a range and signing out weapons or moving on to individual training. Yes, there is some admin stuff that needs to get done, but Rangers do not gets tasked out for post details such as post beautification or any such nonsense. Parachute jumps are conducted as often as possible to keep all Rangers current, usually once a month or so.
As a general guide, Rangers focus on The Big Five, which are Small Unit Tactics, Mobility, Marksmanship, PT, and Medical Training.
Other more intensive training exercises are frequent, such as squad and platoon evaluations that test critical Ranger skills and battle drills. These evaluations also became a type of pre-deployment training that incorporates direct action raids. Rotary wing training is often conducted with 160th Special Operations Aviation and fixed wing training is also mandatory, as airfield seizures is part of the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Mission Essential Task List.
Additionally, Rangers are required to attend Ranger School before being slotted for a leadership role. Other schools and courses that Rangers attend are the SOF armorers course, the Mortar Leadership Course, SERE, Sniper School (now 8-weeks in duration), Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, Military Free Fall (formerly known as HALO), Ranger First Responder, and many more.