ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (April 21, 2015) — Urging industry partners to look beyond current budget constraints and plan to deliver technologies Soldiers will need in the future, Army senior leaders hosted an industry feedback forum focused on modernizing tactical network and mission command capabilities for Force 2025 and Beyond.
When it comes to innovation, Army leaders must be in tune with the risks and fallacies that could lead to undermining their own efforts. This is just one of the areas, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, discussed during a recent presentation at the 2015 AUSA Global Force Symposium.
Gen. David G. Perkins and Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport Sr., TRADOC’s commanding general and command sergeant major, join the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Training Academy on Randall’s Island April 23 to discuss training techniques and share best practices.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips, right, and Pvt. Jose Gonzalez, center, celebrate the U.S. Army Reserve’s 107th birthday with a cake cutting during a ceremony in Morelli Auditorium April 23.
Phillips is the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve and Gonzalez is an advanced individual trainee with the 1st battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment, 128th Aviation Brigade.
The Army Reserve has evolved over the past decade into an operational reserve for total Army capabilities. It can quickly task organize into force packages that can be tailored to support a full range of missions like homeland response and theater security cooperation. These missions also include training, equipping and partnering with host nation military forces and overseas contingency operations.
“We provide nearly 70 percent of the logistics capabilities, 60 percent of medical capabilities, 77 percent of the civil affairs capabilities and 30 percent of the engineer capabilities required by the Army and joint force. These are, of course, only a few of the skills and abilities that they use to meet our nation’s requirements at home and abroad,” said Phillips.
Lt. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, TRADOC deputy commanding general, also attended the event, recognizing citizen Soldiers as a highly educated force, holding 75 percent of doctorates and 50 percent of master’s degrees throughout the Total Army, Mangum said. “Coupled with their technical proficiency, Army Reserve Soldiers are able to tackle new and recurring challenges to our safety, security and democracy,” he said.
FORT BENNING, Ga., (April 22, 2015) — A Ranger instructor from 5th Ranger Training Battalion, Dahlonega, Georgia, will be the first of his unit to travel to Italy in May to train with the Italian army’s 4th Alpine Regiment as part a new Italian Ranger Reciprocal Exchange Position program.
FORT BENNING, Ga., (April 22, 2015) — Nineteen female Soldiers made history April 20 when they began the first gender-integrated Ranger Course assessment on Fort Benning.
During the last four months, 20 women earned the right to attend the Ranger Course by successfully completing one of four gender-integrated Ranger Training Assessment Courses.
The final gender-integrated RTAC wrapped up April 16, with eight females successfully completing the course.
Of the 139 Soldiers who began the course April 3, 61 were female. The eight female graduates join 12 other women who successfully completed RTACs in January, February and March. However, one female Soldier who qualified for the Ranger Course chose assessment not to attend.
RTAC assesses eligible Army active duty, National Guard and foreign military soldiers on their ability to meet the challenges of the Ranger Course.
RTAC is two weeks long and consists of two phases. The first phase, assessment, mirrors the assessment phase at the Ranger Course, and is designed to assess a Soldier’s physical and mental abilities.
During this phase, a student conducts PT tests, a swim test, land navigation and a 6-mile foot march. The second phase of RTAC, the field training exercise, is designed to assess and train Soldiers on troop leading procedures and patrolling, skills which will be used extensively during the Ranger Course.
RTAC was designated a prerequisite for all women who wish to be part of the Ranger Course Assessment, a decision intended to provide the female Soldiers with the best opportunity to succeed in the Ranger Course.
A typical Ranger Course averages about a 50 percent graduation rate, but RTAC graduates have been shown to have a higher success rate.
“We tell everyone RTAC is the best preparation program out there,” said Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Arnold. “We say that because we get to see who comes from throughout the Army and what their preparation program is. … (RTAC students) get a couple of weeks on Fort Benning to acclimate. That’s key. Mother Nature gets the absolute biggest vote in Ranger (Course).”
Now that the gender-integrated RTACs are complete, the 19 women will move on to the Ranger Course, considered to be the most difficult course in the Army.
“When you look at the attrition rate, the physical requirements and the mental requirements to make it through … it’s the toughest course we have,” said Maneuver Center of Excellence Commanding General Maj. Gen. Scott Miller.
The Army designed the Ranger Course during the Korean War, when its purpose was, and still is, to develop combat skills of selected officers and enlisted personnel by requiring them to perform effectively as small unit leaders in a realistic tactical environment under mental and physical stress found in actual combat.
Emphasis is placed on the development of individual combat skills and abilities through the application of the principles of leadership, while further developing military skills in planning and conducting dismounted Infantry, Airborne, air-mobile and amphibious independent squad and platoon-sized operations. Graduates return to their units to pass on these skills. The course is 62 days in duration and divided into three phases.
The Benning Phase is conducted at Fort Benning and nearby Camp Darby by the 4th Ranger Training Battalion of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. It is designed to develop the military skills, physical and mental endurance, stamina and confidence a small-unit combat leader must have to successfully accomplish the mission. It also teaches the Ranger student to properly maintain themself, their subordinates and their equipment under difficult field conditions.
The Mountain Phase is conducted at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia, by the 5th Ranger Training Battalion of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. Ranger students gain proficiency in the fundamental principles and techniques of employing small combat units in a mountainous environment. Students develop their abilities to lead platoon-sized units and to exercise control through planning, preparation and execution phases of all types of combat operations, including ambushes and raids.
The Florida Phase is conducted at Camp Rudder, Florida, by the 6th Ranger Training Battalion of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. The emphasis during this phase is to continue the development of combat leaders, capable of operating effectively under conditions of extreme mental and physical stress. The training further develops the students’ ability to plan and lead small units on independent and coordinated Airborne, Air Assault, small boat and dismounted combat operations against a well-trained, sophisticated enemy.
During all three phases, students are provided with limited food and limited opportunities for sleep.
“We can’t replicate everything about combat, so we use the limited food and sleep to replicate some of the stress of combat,” said Col. David Fivecoat, ARTB commander.
These conditions, coupled with the length of the course, make it a test of resilience for many Soldiers.
“We like to say the Ranger (Course) is the premier leadership (course) in the Army, but I like to think of it more as the premier resiliency (course) in the Army,” Arnold said. “You learn how to be tough. You learn what you’re capable of and how to overcome what you’re not capable of.”
In addition to the benefit for the Soldiers, running gender-integrated iterations of RTAC prior to the gender-integrated Ranger Course has provided an opportunity for leaders to gather lessons learned.
“This is obviously a historic time for the U.S. Army,” Miller said. “We’ve been learning as we’ve gone through, and we’re continuing to learn as we go forward here.”
Miller reiterated that standards – both at RTAC and the Ranger Course – have not and will not change.
“The women have to meet the standards,” Miller said. “Not just the women, but any Soldier who volunteers to go to RTAC or who volunteers to go to the Ranger (Course) must meet the standards.”
Arnold said all students who attend the gender-integrated assessment will be treated equitably.
“The students are all hungry and tired, and they all look the same,” he said. “It’s just the Ranger (Course), and we’re going to hold them to the same standard regardless of if they’re male or female. … We want to make sure that when a student leaves, whether they graduated or didn’t graduate, they can say they were treated fairly and learned something about themselves.”
No matter the end result for the Soldiers who have sought the opportunity to attend the Ranger Course, Miller said they have earned his admiration.
“When you look at the available population of Soldiers who could attend one of these courses, the number that raises their hand and says ‘send me’ keeps getting smaller and smaller,” he said. “As a voluntary course, every time I see a Soldier step forward … I’m filled with admiration. Male or female, the Soldier who is willing to give this a shot is a Soldier I admire.”
Students who begin the Ranger Course and graduate without repeating any phase will graduate June 19.