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Redefining Ranger School.

Winning, never quitting, never stopping, completing the mission, busting down the walls and kicking in doors, standing and finishing after being knocked down, driving on when most would have long before given up, this defines the spirit and attitude of the Ranger.

Since Ranger School's inception in 1950, the RTB has produced well-trained, adaptive close-combat leaders. Over the years, we have made minor adjustments to the school's program of instruction (POI) while always remaining focused on teaching the basics and fundamentals of close combat and the warrior ethos. Those fundamentals don't involve shooting one live round. Ranger School focuses mainly on the basics of taking on miserable situations. These situations involve sleep and food deprivation, steep and nasty snake-infested terrain, stress-inducing Ranger Instructors, and, worst of all, a chaotic melting pot of inexperienced Ranger students that don't care about anything until they are in a leadership position. It is about each student leader being in that situation for at least 61 days. When they have finished, no matter what they are confronted with, they understand that the mission must be completed. The question is, should we adjust our POI to hone more valuable skills these men need to support our Army at war? If I were a platoon sergeant, would I be confident to send them into war after Ranger School?

Recently, our nation has adjusted its focus from set-piece engagements with discernable fronts and an easily recognizable enemy to conducting military operations against transnational threats in a noncontiguous and ambiguous environment. Accordingly, the Ranger Training Brigade is considering augmenting Ranger School's POI to better prepare leaders to defeat current and future threats.

At the same time, however, we must be wary of "refighting the last war" by making drastic, quickly initiated changes to our POI without regard to the future of close combat. Recent enemy action has precipitated significant changes in our military's training and preparation for combat operations. At Ranger School, we must always be mindful that our nation's enemies will adapt and change. Likewise, the environment in which we fight is ever-changing. It would be ill-advised to focus solely on a single environment knowing that engagements over the last 20 years have found U.S. forces in every conceivable environment from extreme cold-weather to desert and built-up areas to mountains. What has not changed--what will never change--is the need to provide the Nation with capable, dependable self-confident combat leaders. Therefore, any proposed changes to Ranger School must never dilute our mission of teaching the basics and fundamentals of combat operations.

While retaining our concept of being a fundamentals and principles based school, the Ranger Training Brigade is currently examining all facets of our instruction for ways to better prepare Ranger School graduates for combat operations. Current proposals under consideration include the following:

[] A marked increase in Urban Operations missions--The students will operate in and around built-up areas, learn urban breaching techniques, conduct cordon and searches, and conduct selective room clearing. This training would pay dividends as graduates would teach the most current doctrine and techniques to their squads and platoons at home station.

[] Integration of mobility operations--The students will conduct some missions mounted and must properly plan and execute convoy operations. They must react to IEDs and near ambushes and be prepared to conduct a hasty attack. All too often, leaders have little exposure to realistic combat convoy operations prior to deployment. Through the concept of chain-teaching, graduates would be able to impart their knowledge on their units.

[] Integration of civilian role players--The students will be exposed to additional guidance on the Laws of Land Warfare, operate under a restrictive ROE, and encounter media and civilians during combat operations. Additionally, the RTB is considering conducting "media train-up" where actual journalists would join the students during a phase and act as an embedded journalist. The benefits are two-fold: the students would learn to operate with media present in a consequence-free learning environment while the journalists would learn the basics of combat operations in order to better understand the role and actions of the Army. This program would alleviate the need for the precarious "on the job training" that many Soldiers and journalists face in GWOT.

[] Increased prerequisites--Although the current prerequisites for admittance to Ranger School remains the same, we are currently assessing the need to add combat lifesaver (CLS) certification and Skill Level 1 Combatives training as necessary skills that students must possess before they are admitted. The addition of these skills would allow Ranger Instructors to build on this base to improve the student's medical training and hand-to-hand combat proficiency.

[] Renewed emphasis on marksmanship--Students would learn the fundamentals of close quarters battle (CQB) through extensive train-up program culminating in a shoot-house live-fire. Marksmanship has given U.S. forces a decisive edge over our enemy's, yet many units are lacking marksmanship subject matter experts.

Renewed emphasis on medical training. Students would learn advanced techniques to keep wounded Soldiers alive. As we have seen in GWOT, the separation of forces necessitates Soldiers being trained to treat wounded comrades. Students would be exposed to the most current medical equipment and techniques and show proficiency on a variety of medical tasks throughout the course.

We have not and will not make any major changes to Ranger School for the time being but the contemporary operating environment compels us to adapt to the current threat and consider updating our POI. Ranger School will always be grounded in the basics and fundamentals of combat. The proposals outlined above are intended to reinforce and enhance, never replace, the core principle of Ranger School--no matter what the distance, no matter what the odds, no matter what the environment, well-trained, well-rehearsed and disciplined Rangers will defeat every threat in every engagement. Ranger School will remain a rigorous, mentally and physically challenging environment where only those students fully committed to meeting unwavering standards will graduate.

To better provide realistic training that is relevant to today's contemporary and future threats, we encourage input from units currently serving in or recently redeployed from OIF and OEF. Please contact the RTB S3, Major Michael McNally, at with recommendations.

Regardless of what initiatives we integrate, the Ranger Tab will remain a mark of excellence; tangible evidence that the bearer is a trained leader whose legacy is that of a warrior who has never let our nation down during a time of need. We will always provide the Army with tactical leaders that excel in the unforgiving environment of combat and remain the best life insurance policy a Soldier can get before going to combat for himself and his men.

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Title Annotation:Ranger Notes; Ranger Training Brigade
Author:Greenway, Douglas M.
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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