The 75th Ranger Regiment is the U.S. Army’s elite infantry-style, special operations unit. The Rangers specializes in direct action and counterterrorism, often capturing or killing high-value targets. Additionally, they are trained in airfield seizure, personnel recovery, special reconnaissance, and clandestine operations. The Regiment is assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and its regimental headquarters is in Fort Benning, Georgia.
The Army Rangers trace their lineage back to pre-Revolutionary War times. During King Philip’s War, Benjamin Church gathered up a group of rangers, who became known as “Church’s Rangers.” They were tasked with fighting violent Native American tribes. During the French and Indian War of 1756, Major Rogers established nine Ranger companies. They were coined with a similar title, “Rogers’ Rangers.”
In 1775, in preparation for the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress established eight companies, consisting of expert sharpshooters. They became known as the Corps of Rangers. Francis Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox,” an iconic colonial in the war, raised his own group of Rangers, known as “Marion’s Partisans.”
Army Rangers in WWII
After the Civil War, a formal Ranger unit did not exist until the beginning of WWII. After Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into WWII, the first modern Ranger unit was formed, labeled as the 1st Ranger Battalion. General George C. Marshall created this unit by picking the best 50 soldiers from the 34th Infantry Division. Major William Orlando Darby was chosen as the man to lead this elite unit.
The unit’s first trial by fire was during the Dieppe Raid on the coast of France, on August 19, 1942. The Army Rangers fought side by side with British and Canadian commandos. Three Rangers were killed and others were captured. A 1st Battalion Ranger, Lt. E. V. Loustalot, was the first American soldier killed in the European campaign.
Due to the continued success of the 1st Ranger Battalion, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Ranger battalions were created. Since the Ranger battalion was comprised of only volunteers, Darby struggled to find enough soldiers to fill the vacancies.
The Ranger battalions were involved in many battles and firefights during WWII. One of the Rangers’ most notable exploits was their assault on Pointe du Hoc. The Army Rangers had to scale the side of a steep beachhead under heavy enemy fire in order to destroy guns that could wreak havoc on the incoming soldiers. When they got to the top, the guns weren’t there: they had been moved inland. They eventually made it to the guns and destroyed them.
The 6th Ranger Battalion served in the Pacific theater. A notable event was when Rangers snuck 29 miles behind enemy lines, at one point crawling for a mile across an exposed field. Their mission was to rescue 500 POWs and destroy a large Japanese stronghold. The event is known as the Raid at Cabanatuan.
The 75th Infantry Regiment was first organized in the China-Burma-India Theater on Oct. 3, 1943, as Task Force Galahad. It was during the campaigns in the China-Burma-India Theater that the regiment became known as Merrill’s Marauders after its commander, Maj. Gen. Frank D. Merrill. The Ranger Battalions were deactivated at the end of WWII.
The 75th Ranger Regiment’s (Airborne) distinctive unit insignia consists of the colors blue, white, red, and green. They represent four of the original six combat teams of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), commonly referred to as Merrill’s Marauders, which were identified by color. To avoid confusion, the other two colors, khaki and orange were not represented in the design. However, khaki was represented by the color of the uniform worn by U.S. forces in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. The unit’s close cooperation with the Chinese forces in the China-Burma-India Theater is represented by the sun symbol from the Chinese flag. The white star represents the Star of Burma, the country in which the Marauders campaigned during World War II. The lightning bolt is symbolic of the strike characteristics of the Marauders’ behind-the-line activities.
Army Rangers in Korea and Vietnam
The Rangers had a major role in the Korean War. In total, six Ranger companies served during the conflict. They were constantly on the offensive, conducting ambushes, reconnaissance, and scouting missions. By the end of the war, 100 Rangers had been killed and another 296 were wounded.
During the Vietnam War, the modern-day Army Ranger began to develop. During that war, the ranger-style units systematically progressed.
In 1966, General William Westmoreland ordered the creation of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs), the plan was for them to be assigned to every infantry brigade and division. The first LRRP unit arrived in Vietnam in 1967.
In June of 1967, the LRRPs morphed into the Long Range Patrols (LRPs). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Earle G. Wheeler mandated the creation of two of these companies. Each company had 230 men and was commanded by a major. The remaining LRRP units within the infantry and airborne divisions were eventually officially designated as LRP units.
In February of 1969, the Army re-designated the LRP companies as official Ranger companies, under the 75th Infantry Regiment. The Ranger companies deactivated as their parent divisions rotated home from Vietnam. On June 9, 1972, Sgt. Elvis Weldon Osborne Jr. and Cpl. Jeffrey Alan Maurer were the last two U.S. soldiers to be killed in Vietnam; they were also Army Rangers.
In 1974, General Creighton Abrams ordered the creation of a Ranger Battalion. Under the direction of General Kenneth C. Leuer, the 1st Ranger Battalion was created and parachuted into Fort Stewart, Georgia on July 1, 1974. The 2nd Ranger Battalion wasn’t far behind, becoming active in October of 1974. Eventually, the 3rd Ranger Battalion was activated at Fort Benning, GA in 1984. The 75th Ranger Regiment was born in February of 1986, to which the three battalions were assigned.
How to Become an Army Ranger
Qualifications for the 75th Ranger Regiment Pipeline
In order to qualify for entry into the 75th Ranger Regiment, a candidate must meet the following requirements:
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Volunteer for the Regiment and currently be on active duty
- Achieve a General Technical Score of 105 or higher
- Meet all requirements of the screening process
- Meet the minimum requirements for the Ranger Fitness Test, which are
- 53 push-ups
- 63 sit-ups
- four pull-ups
- Run two miles in 14:30 minutes or less
- March six miles carrying a 35-pound rucksack and weapon in less than 1.5 hours
- Qualify and be willing to attend Airborne training
- No pending UCMJ violations
- Qualify for a Secret security clearance
Additional Officer Requirements:
- Have a rank ranging from O-1 to O-4
- Qualify for a Top Secret security clearance
- Meet Year Group criteria
- Have a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) assigned in the 75th Ranger Regiment
Applying to the 75th Ranger Regiment
Civilians who want to go straight into the 75th Ranger Regiment are able to apply for an Option 40 Contract.
If an Option 40 Contract is unavailable at their time of entry into the Army, an individual can reach out to a Drill Sergeant, Airborne instructor, or a 75th Ranger Regiment NCO and request a volunteer statement.
Those that are in the Army and would like to join the Regiment are encouraged to provide their service records to the 75th via their recruiting contact email ([email protected]). The 75th has 10 active duty Rangers that seek out, inform, and recruit highly qualified Ranger candidates. Additionally, they have eight liaison NCOs assigned to assist volunteers with joining the Regiment. They’re located at Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Ranger Assessment and Selection (RASP) 1
Upon completion of Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), candidates will report to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Facility to participate in Pre-RASP. During this portion, individuals will be screened, which includes passing a psychological review, background check, and a urinalysis test. They must also pass the RASP physical entry test, which is listed above.
After Pre-RASP, candidates will be classed up and begin the eight-week RASP 1 training block. RASP 1 is broken up into two phases: Testing and Ranger Skills Training.
Phase 1: Testing
During this phase, candidates will undergo many physical and psychological tests. Passing tests in a classroom is just as important as passing the grueling physical tests. In addition, candidates will be constantly evaluated on their general character and leadership abilities.
Phase 1 is broken down into four general testing categories: forced ruck marches and runs, land navigation (day and night), first responder test, and screenings.
Phase 2: Ranger Skills Training
In the second portion of RASP, candidates begin to learn the tactical and technical disciplines required to be a Ranger. They are trained in direct action combat, personnel recovery, and airfield seizure. The training is broken down into four general sections: Marksmanship and Tactics, Basic Regimental Marksmanship, Advanced Regimental Marksmanship, and Explosives and Breaching.
At graduation, Rangers earn the right to wear the coveted tan beret and the Ranger Scroll on their left shoulder.
Ranger Assessment and Selection (RASP) 2
RASP 2 is a selection course for senior noncommissioned officers (E-5 promotable and above), officers, and warrant officers. The course is three-weeks long. Candidates are tested on their physical and mental abilities and are trained in special tactics unique to the Regiment’s mission. Along the way, they learn what it takes in order to competently train, mentor, and lead their young Rangers.
Ranger school does not fall under the 75th Ranger Regiment, however, it is considered the premier small-unit tactics leadership course in the U.S. Army. All 75th Rangers are expected to attend Ranger School and it’s a requirement for noncommissioned officers and officers.
There is a lot of confusion between Ranger School and the 75th Ranger Regiment. As stated before, it’s important to understand that Ranger School does not fall under the 75th Ranger Regiment or Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Rather, Ranger School falls under the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Ranger School is open to soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines. Upon graduation from Ranger School, graduates receive the Ranger “Tab,” whereas 75th Rangers wear the Ranger “Scroll.”
75th Ranger Regiment Units
There are three Army Ranger Battalions, and an additional Special Troops Battalion and Military Intelligence Battalion.
– Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) – Fort Benning, GA
– Regimental Military Intelligence Battalion – Fort Benning, GA
– Regimental Special Troops Battalion – Fort Benning, GA
– 1st Ranger Battalion – Hunter Army Airfield, GA
– 2nd Ranger Battalion – Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
– 3rd Ranger Battalion – Fort Benning, GA
The Tan Beret
Before the 75th Ranger Regiment began wearing the infamous tan beret, they exclusively wore black berets. In June of 2001, the Army Chief of Staff issued an order for all regular soldiers to wear black berets. This created quite an upset within the Ranger community. Former Rangers even organized and protested in DC to fight the mandate. But, since the 75th Ranger Regiment didn’t have presidential authorization to wear the black beret, they didn’t have a leg to stand on.
The Ranger Regiment made the decision to start wearing tan berets. The tan color signified the buckskins that Robert Rogers’s Rangers wore during the French and Indian War. It also is the color of beret that the British and Australian SAS wear. In 2002, a Memorandum, outlining the reason for the change from black to tan berets was submitted and approved. On July 26, 2002, current and former Rangers put on the tan beret in a private ceremony.
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my Ranger Regiment.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier, who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger, my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.
Rangers Lead the Way! and the Ranger Scroll
On June 6, 1944, the infamous day better known as D-Day, the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions were assaulting Omaha beach and were at the front of the 2–16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. The fighting was fierce and the casualties were mounting. During the engagement, the commander of the 5th Ranger Battalion, Major Max F. Schneider, linked up with General Norman Cota. Cota asked Schneider what unit he was from and someone yelled, “5th Rangers!”. Cota responded, “Well then Goddammit, Rangers, lead the way!” After that, the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions spearheaded the attack, penetrating the sea wall and assaulting gun positions entrenched above the beach. They opened the way for the rest of the Army assault force to penetrate inland. To this day, the 75th Ranger Regiment lives by the same motto, “Rangers, lead the way!”
The design of the 75th Ranger Regiment scroll also traces back to WWII. The use of the scroll and the black, scarlet, and white colors were approved during the war. The scroll was then worn by members of the 75th Infantry Regiment during the Vietnam war era. On February 3, 1986, the ranger battalions were consolidated and designated as the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 75th Ranger Infantry scroll was updated to reflect the unit’s new name, the “75th Ranger Regiment”, which was made official on February 14, 1986.
The 75th Ranger Regiment uses three types of assault rifles: M4A1 Carbine, MK 16 SCAR-L, and the MK 17 SCAR-H.
The M4A1, which shoots a 5.56 mm round, has been around for quite a while and is an updated, smaller variant of the M16A2. Rangers outfit their M4A1s with the SOPMOD 2 package, which includes an infrared laser, EO Tech, light, and other components.
The MK 16 SCAR-L shoots a 5.56 mm round. This weapon is a relatively new addition to the Ranger arsenal, but it’s gaining traction and beginning to replace the M4A1. The rifle barrel can be changed out with three different sizes (10″, 14″, 18″). These barrels can be changed in the field, allowing Rangers flexibility depending on their battle environment.
The MK 17 SCAR-H shoots a 7.62 mm round. Just like the MK 16, the MK 17 has three different barrel sizes (13″, 16″, 20″) which can be changed out quickly. The MK 17 is recognized for its light weight and accuracy, serving as a great multi-purpose rifle.
The Army Rangers’ heavy weapons arsenal consists of four different weapons systems: MK 46, MK 48, M240, and M2 .50 Caliber.
The MK 46 shoots a 5.56 mm round and weighs in at 15.65 lbs. It’s a variant of the M249 SAW platform and is used exclusively by special operations forces. Its compact size, weight, and rate of fire make it a go-to weapon for the Ranger regiment.
The MK 48 shoots a 7.62 mm round and weighs 18.26 lbs. This weapon is a larger variant of the M249 SAW. The MK 48 was created based on the request and input of SOCOM. The special operations community was in need of a reliable machine gun capable of shooting a large round. Additionally, it had to be easily carried in the field and survive the tough environments where special operations forces often operate. This weapon replaced the infamous M60. Army Rangers consistently carry the MK 48 on combat operations.
The M240 shoots a 7.62 mm round and is a tried and tested weapons platform in the special operations community, including the Rangers. The M240 is often mounted on Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMV) that Rangers operate. The machine gun is also used on special operations helicopters and combatant-crafts.
The M2 .50 caliber machine gun has stood the test of time, being utilized in every major conflict since the 1920s. With the ability to shoot a round that can travel over a mile, combined with the ability to punch through barriers, including light armor, the .50 cal has earned its place in the Rangers’ arsenal.
The Army Rangers have two pistols in their arsenal: the Beretta M9 and the Glock 19. Both weapons shoot a nine mm round and have 15 round magazines. The M9 is the standard sidearm for the U.S. Army and many Rangers carry it. The Glock 19 has gained a lot of traction in the special operations community. The Glock is extremely lightweight and considered extremely reliable. Many Rangers carry this weapon also.
The 75th Ranger Regiment has a plethora of additional weapons at its disposal. These include a Close Quarters Battle (CQB) style shotgun known as the Knight’s Armament Company Masterkey, which is often used for breaching. The Rangers also have their own corps of snipers who typically use the MK 12 Mod 1 SPR, the MK11 Mod 0, the M24 SWS, or the M107, known as “The Barrett.” The Regiment utilizes multiple rocket launchers, including the M136 AT4, the Ranger Antitank Weapons System (RAWS), the FGM-148 Javelin, and the FIM-92 Stinger.
Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
In October 2001, Army Rangers were assigned to Task Force Sword, a black special operations unit that was tasked with killing or capturing high-value al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. On October 19, 2001, 200 Rangers from 3rd Battalion conducted an airborne assault to take control of Objective Rhino, which was an airstrip outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Soon after, a combined force of Delta Force operators and Army Rangers flew from the USS Kitty Hawk in four MH-47E helicopters, to take down Mullah Omar in his compound, outside of Kandahar. Upon arrival, Omar was not there and the decision was to exploit the area for intelligence. When the Rangers and Delta were about to leave, they were attacked by a large group of Taliban fighters. An intense firefight ensued and resulted in the killing of 30 Taliban members. None of the Delta operators or Rangers were killed, but 12 Delta members were wounded.
In the Helmand Province, in July 2006, two MH-47Es from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) were inserting a combined force of Development Group (DEVGRU) operators, Army Rangers, and Afghan commandos. Their objective was to take down a compound. As they were inserting the assaulters, both helicopters came under fire. The helicopter who had disembarked all of the operators flew in a direct defensive position in front of the other helicopter, still inserting some of the team’s members. The blocking MH-47E was hit by an RPG and went down. The team on the ground took up a defensive posture around the crash site. The other helicopter stayed on station providing fire support until their miniguns ran out of ammo. The assault team and downed crew members were eventually rescued by a British helicopter.
On May 26, 2008, SFC Leroy Petry, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, during his seventh deployment, became the second recent living recipient of the medal for the war in Afghanistan
Operation Iraqi Freedom
For the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ranger Battalions were assigned to a specialized Task Force. Their main objectives were to conduct reconnaissance, seize priority locations, and then take down high-value targets.
April 1, 2003, was a big day for the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were involved in a massive raid to rescue PFC Jessica Lynch. In conjunction with DEVGRU SEALs, Pararescuemen, Combat Controllers, and the 160th SOAR, they successfully rescued the gravely wounded Lynch. On the same day, members of the 3rd Battalion along with Delta Force operators took down the Haditha Dam. The assaulters encountered varied resistance. On April 3, three Rangers were killed by a suicide bomber driving a vehicle containing an improvised explosive device.
In June of 2008, Army Rangers took down Abu Khalaf at his house. As the Rangers were about to gain entry to the house, they came under attack by guards outside who were quickly eliminated by a Ranger sniper element. As the Rangers cleared the house, they arrested a man and a woman. As they were detaining the man, he reached for something under his clothing. Fearing that he was grabbing for a weapon, the Rangers shot and killed him. The woman jumped on him and the Rangers killed her as well. They discovered that the man had indeed been wearing a suicide-bomb vest. During the raid, Abu Khalaf ran out onto the street with a pistol. He was shot and killed by Army Ranger snipers. Khalaf, who was the second in command of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the highest-level target that the Rangers had ever taken down.
SGM Thomas Payne, an Army Ranger assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during a hostage rescue mission and raid on an ISIS prison near Hawija in northern Iraq on October 22, 2015.
This guide was originally published in February 2021. It has been updated for republication.
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