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U.S. Military Special Operations Forces

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I'll let you in on another little secret: The Army knows that the vast majority of those who sign up on the 18X Special Forces Enlistment Program will fail. However, lots of young high-school recruits walk into the Army Recruiting Office and want to be the next "Rambo." The 18X programs gives the Army a fairly significant pool of "volunteers" who will ultimately become Infantry Troops.

The Army has five active duty Special Forces Groups, and two National Guard Special Forces Groups. Each Group is responsible for a certain part of the World. The five groups and their areas of responsibility are:

  • 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) at Ft. Lewis, WA, responsible for the Pacific and Eastern Asia
  • 3rd SFG at Ft. Bragg, NC, responsible for the Caribbean and Western Africa
  • 5th SFG at Ft. Campbell, KY, responsible for Southwest Asia and Northeastern Africa
  • 7th SFG at Ft. Bragg, NC, responsible for Central and South America
  • 10th SFG at Ft. Carson, CO, responsible for Europe
  • 19th SFG (National Guard)
  • 20th SPG (National Guard)

Army Rangers

The 75th Ranger Regiment is a flexible, highly-trained, and rapidly-deployable light infantry force with specialized skills that enables it to be employed against a variety of conventional and special operations targets. Rangers specialize in dropping in uninvited to spoil your entire day. They generally practice to parachute into the middle of the action, to perform strikes and ambushes and to capture enemy airfields.

With America's entry into the Second World War, Rangers came forth to add to the pages of history. Major General Lucian K. Truscott, U. S. Army Liaison with the British General Staff, submitted proposals to General George Marshal that "we undertake immediately an American unit along the lines of the British Commandos" on May 26, 1942. A cable from the War Department quickly followed to Truscott and Major General Russell P. Hartle, commanding all Army Forces in Northern Ireland, authorizing the activation of the First U. S. Army Ranger Battalion. The name RANGER was selected by General Truscott "because the name Commandos rightfully belonged to the British, and we sought a name more typically American. It was therefore fit that the organization that was destined to be the first of the American Ground Forces to battle Germans on the European continent should be called Rangers in compliment to those in American history who exemplified the high standards of courage, initiative, determination and ruggedness, fighting ability and achievement."

The members of the 1st Ranger Battalion were all hand-picked volunteers; 50 participated in the gallant Dieppe Raid on the northern coast of France with British and Canadian commandos. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Ranger Battalions participated with distinction in the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaigns. Darby’s Ranger Battalions spearheaded the Seventh Army landing at Gela and Licata during the Sicilian invasion and played a key role in the subsequent campaign which culminated in the capture of Messina. They infiltrated German lines and mounted an attack against Cisterna, where they virtually annihilated an entire German parachute regiment during close in, night, bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting.

Most people have heard of "Ranger School." It's a very tough, 61 day course. Many times, the other services even send their Special Ops people through this course. What you may not know is that not all combat soldiers assigned to a Ranger Battalion has gone through this course. "Rager School" is designed to train NCOs (Noncommissioned Officers) and Commissioned Officers to LEAD Ranger and Army Infantry Platoons.

New soldiers (mostly in the rank of E-1 to E-4) assigned to a Ranger Battalion must first be airborne qualified (go through jump school). They then attend the three-week Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP). To successfully complete RIP, the candidate must achieve a minimum 60% score on the Army Physical Fitness Test (in the 17 to 21 age group), must complete a five-mile run at no slower than 8 minutes per mile, must complete the Army Combat Water Survival Test, CWST (15 meters in battle-dress-uniform [BDUs], combat boots, and combat gear), must complete two out of three road marches (one of which must be the 10-mile march), and must receive a minimum score of 70% on all written examinations.

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