Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rangers Lead The Way

In January of 1995, I graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger Course. Returning to earn my Tab after the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course, I graduated as a Captain, having not earned the distinctive left shoulder tab after my first attempt as a young lieutenant years earlier. In finishing the last phase of instruction, in Camp Darby, Florida, "The Swamp" Phase, we were nearing completion. Two young rangers had been recycled into our platoon. They had been enrolled in the course for close to four months, having had either medical or performance shortfalls in earlier phases and were pretty miserable but maintained the "Intestinal Fortitude" to complete the mission. For the uninitiated, in Ranger School, you have no rank, regardless of phase, regardless of status. If you are a "Stud" or student, you are just a roster number or "Ranger."

Well, these two Rangers did not make the peer evaluation of this phase and consequently, the Ranger Instructors or "R.I.s" decided that, since they didn't pass their "Peers," they would be dropped from the course. This hit them hard and dampened the morale of the entire platoon. However, they were both good soldiers that had each earned a "Go" on their patrols and, in the eyes of their fellow students, were deserving of graduation. I was part of a group that organized and drafted statements that we submitted to the R.I.'s of our group on behalf of these two soldiers, arguing that they were good men that had what it takes to be ranked as members of this elite fraternity of men. We basically convinced the chain of command that they were deserving of the Ranger Tab and that they had just had the bad luck to join a platoon that was, by then a well oiled machine that had gone through the mill together.

The Commander of the Ranger Training Brigade spoke to us after hearing of the situation and singled our platoon out for living up to the third paragraph of the Ranger Creed. That paragraph starts with "Never shall I fail my comrades."

Why the story about Ranger School? Well, the commander of the Ranger Training Brigade was then Colonel Galen Jackman, now Major General Jackman, the Chief Legislative Liaison for the United States Army. Maj. Gen. Jackman visited us yesterday to gain a better understanding of how U.S. and Coalition Forces are working with Afghanistan and how the ANA is stepping up to the mantle of leadership in bulding a National Army. After a briefing from Afghan Brig. Gen. Wardak and I on the Afghan and Coalition efforts here at the Kabul Military Training Center, Jackman enthusiastically took the opportunity to reenlist two members of our task force here in a war zone; issuing them their reenlistment oaths from memory. We later toured the base to show him the excellence of the ANA and the expansion of the post.

It was good to meet this Ranger leader again and to know that he was now the offical liaison to the Congress, the House of Representatives of which has just shifted to Democratic control for the first time since 1991. It was also an honor to have had the opportunity to remind him how a short, ten-minute pep talk he had given to a group of twenty hungry, field-hardened Rangers eleven years ago stays with some of us to this day. Having men and women that have walked the line in every leadership capacity from platoon to brigade sized organizations is an important factor in the way the modern United States Armed Forces fields it top executive leadership to key posts. It is a factor that sometimes eludes similarly diverse global organizations in the corporate world. It is so important that those responsibile, in Jackman's case, to brief the highest levels of the Legislative Branch, clearly understand the tactical and operational levels of warfare as well as the National Command Strategy that they must also move within.

It was good to share fraternity with this leader.

Thanks to 1st Sgt. Don Weber for these great pictures.

RLTW! (Rangers Lead The Way!)

-out here


Blogger Kat said...

omg THAT IS SO COOL!!! Neat story! :)

Thanks for all y'all do over htere on our behalf... we appreciate you and are proud of you.

8:30 PM  

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