The current incarnation of the US Army Rangers was formed in 1986, when the 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger) became the 75th Ranger Regiment, although much of the Ranger framework was already in place. The famous Second World War rangers were disbanded after the war. Airborne Ranger Companies were formed but not used during the Korean War, and the Ranger lineage was granted to the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols during the Vietnam era. In 1974 two battalions of the 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger) were formed, again inheriting the Ranger lineage. Ranger training facilities had survived since the Korean War, in particular the Ranger School.
The current incarnation of the Rangers has fought in Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan and twice in Iraq, and the unit has changed dramatically between 1986 and the present day. Most of this book is taken up with an account of the Ranger's combat experiences (43 out of 64 pages), a good decision that allows the author to follow a number of these operations in a reasonable amount of detail, looking at the Ranger's role, and the wider operation. The text is supported by a good selection of photographs, including some combat pictures. The result is a useful combination of a unit history and a brief history of part of America's recent miliary history.
Two things stand out from the combat histories. The first is that Rangers haven't always been successful – in Panama attempts to capture Noriega failed, they were hardly used in the First Gulf War, their involvement in Somalia is now infamous ('Black Hawk Down'), and attempts to capture high value targets in Afghanistan weren't terribly successful (finding 'dry holes' instead of their intended targets, or serving as part of wider plans with big flaws that allowed their targets to escape). The proportion of successful missions looks to have been higher during the Second Gulf War and the Iraqi insurgency. The second is that the Rangers have evolved from a force that was used for a limited number of precise, short-duration missions, into one that is capable of operating at a high tempo over a long period of time, conducting several fairly small scale raids on a single day.
RIP, RASP and the Regiment
Operation 'Just Cause', Panama, 1989
Operation 'Desert Storm', Arabian Gulf, 1991
Operation 'Gothic Serpent', Somalia, 1993
Operation 'Enduring Freedom', Afghanistan, 2001-present day
Operation 'Iraqi Freedom', Iraq, 2003-2010
Evolution of the Regiment
Author: Leigh Neville