Son has been in full time military for 1 year. He has been doing great in officer candidate classes and others. Keeps telling me he enjoys the military life, chose infantry in first officer class. Now he is trying the Ranger school, but he is having problems with the leadership tasks. I feel he needs more time in the military to learn how to lead before going into Ranger training. But son makes it sound like if he does not make it thru Ranger school now, he will be worthless. Son is not even 25 years old yet! What is your opinion?
|Highly Experienced Member|
He has to make it through Ranger school if he wants to be a Infantry Officer or he won't have the full respect of his men. An Infantry Officer without the Ranger tab is always open to suspicion and second guessing by subordinates and superiors alike. They have to constantly prove themselves and show the decision they made was the best one. Without a Ranger tab I do not feel Infantry Officer training is complete.
The Army instituted the Ranger school expectation either in the early 1980's or shortly before as a response to Infantrymen shooting their LT's in Vietnam for being worthless in leadership ability. The practice was called "fragging". It was done out of fear by the enlisted because they didn't want to die due to a stupid 2LT mistake or shortcomming in battle. Shooting the LT was a quick way to move onto the next one. Yes it was illegal back then and considered murder, etc but it happened.
This is just my opinion as a former Infantryman of the 1980's and having the Ranger tab discussion among other lower Enlisted.
Others might disagree with me but I wouldn't have full respect for a Infantry PL without the Ranger tab BECAUSE of the history. Think about it you show up new to platoon fresh out of college with only Officer basic branch training. For some MOS' and branches that is OK but for the Infantry branch you need more proficiency because the risks are greater with simple mistakes or oversights or bad decisions.
So your Son is partially right he would not be much use in the Infantry branch BUT he can always shift to another support branch if he does not pass Ranger school. That would be a blow to his self-confidence though and he should make every attempt to finish what he started with the Infantry Branch.
Early to mid-20's is not too young for Ranger school.
I've seen a few exceptions to this. However, in every instance except one, the officer in question sported a Combat Infantryman Badge and/or a Special Forces tab. I had some friends in IOBC during the Gulf War I build-up who were told by their Cadre they could skip Ranger School if they would ship off to Saudi. Noting negative came to them. That one exception was a strange one. He was a Colonel who commanded 3/24th. The guy had no tab, combat patch and an EIB. Despite that he was well respected and a damned good officer. Don't know how he slipped through the cracks.
But despite all this, being a tabless Infantry officer appears to be quite unpleasant. I had a friend who was Branch Detailed to Infantry. After 4 years, he switched to Quartermaster. When he got his orders sending him to Ranger School, he went to the Infantry OBC cadre and tried to get out of it. He told me there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and the path to getting the orders voided was so painful he opted to just go to Ranger School. He flunked out on day one (intentionally I think) and got carted off to 3/24 on Kelly Hill. He spent most of his Infantry time skippering support platoons and doing S4 work. In his case this was probably very helpful for his QM time, but I suspect he would have been passed over and involuntarily separated had he not branch transferred.
Tabless officer are more common these days than they were when I first came in. Don't ask me why, but it seems to be true. Unfortunately there is that perception in the Army among the young guys that if you have a tab then you are a bad@ss and if you don't then you arent. I have seen some gumps with tabs, and good soldiers without them. However one thing you should remember is that young officer go through Ranger school all the time. They succeed, and they do very well. What he is trying to do is in no way impossible. It may be tough for him, but that is the point. Many before him have gotten through, and many after him will as well. Experience in the military helps, but is not a deal breaker.
Frankly, if he needed more time in the military before leading, he should not have gone to OCS. Plenty of 20-21yo PFCs and SPCs have made it through Ranger School, as well as 22-23yo 2LTs. As an Infantry officer, he will soon face greater leadership challenges than Ranger School in combat in Afghanistan.
That said, Ranger School is important for credibility as a IN officer, but not the be-all, end-all. Plenty of IN officers don't make it for whatever reason, and go back as CPTs after the Captain's Career Course. I've even seen a couple (2 in my career) of CPTs in command in IN units (HHCs, but still) without Ranger Tabs, including one in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Tell him don't quit, suck it up, do what the RIs teach, and he'll get through it.
I understand your concerns but like the others have already said, it's almost a pre-req to be taken seriously as an infantry officer. Also, the school doesn't really "teach" you stuff as much as it "tests" you for what you already have. If, deep down inside of him, there is the potential for a good leader - it will come out. Waiting will do little to change his innate genetic ability and will only make him older and less fit.
If he listens to the RIs, they will teach him what he needs to know. Then it is up to him to do it.
i agree i,m sorry but a ranger tab or airborne tab doesn,t make you a better leader ,you either are one or not ...two of the best officers i ever had where straight infantry one was a light col got in right after the korean war seen his first combat in vietnam the othger was a capt ...all they had where cib...
|Boot Camp and Army Forums Moderator|
Two of the best platoon leaders I served with did not complete Ranger school. One had failed due to an injury, and the other, through a series of very odd ocurances, and through no fault of his own, never got to go.
I don't recall ever having a Company or BN commander without a tab though...
I knew several Lt’s in VN. One had gone to Ranger school and was a get by. Another hadn’t and was the best Lt I had over there. A couple were losers and removed from the field early. No mater what’s on his chest it doesn’t take long to recognize whether a guy can do his job or not
I'm currently an Infantry PL and loving it. Unfortunately, after IOBC I went to Ranger and had to leave after Darby Phase (first phase) due to reasons beyond my control. Nevertheless, I got plugged into a platoon and it has been awesome.
I will not take anything away from those guys who have gotten through Ranger. They obviously toughed out some hard stuff and earned the tab. But, as some others have said, it is not the end all, be all. As a friend of mine told me, it earns you about 5 minutes of credibility. After that 5 minutes are up, it is right back to whether or not you can hack it. Soldiers care about your credentials, but they really should care about whether or not you take care of them and can bring them home.
I endure the occaisional conversations where my fellow PLs talk about their Ranger School stories, but in the end my platoon dominates our FTXs, and the higher command sees it.
Tell him this: put your head down, do your job, listen to your NCOs, and care about your mission and your Soldiers.
|11B and proud of it|
I only knew one Platoon Leader without a Ranger tab. He was mine, and he was the worst officer I ever met. He wouldn't have made a good Private. He ended up being chaptered out of the Army for incompetence. (He was also the only OCS LT I ever had on a side note.)
It anecdotal, but that's the experience I had with officers who didn't have Ranger tabs. Every other Infantry officer I met (in my companies) had Ranger tabs.
Just my $.02
These days, it seems to be different. Our current OPTEMPO doesn't always offer the opportunity for Ranger School, such was my case. On that note, I'm a National Guard Infantry Officer and state funding has a lot to do with that as well. But in the 3 line Platoons I've had before moving to XO, not bearing a tab was never a problem. I actually had a Squad Leader comment one day, saying "well you've got your tab Sir, you just don't wear it, right?" Nope, I don't. I skipped Ranger School so I could meet up with my Platoon right before deploying to Iraq.
Out of the three PL's under me now, none of them sport a tab, yet all of them are competent and will do good things. However, our Commander has his tab, and he frequently acts like an immature PFC needing to be yanked back in line. That said, his tactical and technical knowledge is outstanding, but it's obvious Ranger School does not teach maturity.
Ranger School is a right of passage. Does it make you a better leader? Absolutely not. But it sure will test you. I can honestly say that out of all the tabbed Officers I've served with or under, a good 50% of them have been completely useless ****s. The other 50% have been solid leaders. Statistically, they don't seem to be any better than non tabbed Officers. Side note - all Officers mentioned above have been Infantry.
|Highly Experienced Member|
National Guard didn't have it's act together as far as Ranger school for PL in the 1980's either or for that matter other schools. So I kind of discount the NG units a little (sorry not one to rip on the NG but historically has been the case).
I am surprised to hear that Regular Army Officers are not tabbed though. That is a change and I have to say it's a change in Army philosophy. It was General Westmoreland that started the Ranger tab thing for PL and for NCO's back during the Vietnam War. It was very strongly emphasized during the 1980's.
As for lack of maturity with the Ranger tab, the disciplinary standards were also tighter in the 1980's. Such a person was usually on their way out of the Army if they acted that way in a Infantry company. That was the case for Regular Army. I think NG is more accomodating with Officer behavior myself (again not ripping on the NG, just feel thats the way it is).
It depends on the unit and men in the unit though and a good part of the decision of what makes a good officer varies from officer to officer. My CO at the 101st had the Special Forces tab and was on the West Point football team. He had a problem with booze and some immaturity after hours but he could Soldier during the duty day and in the field AND his training was very realistic so I think thats why they kept him. I doubt if he ever rose above CPT though. I thought he was a good CO. Some of the PL did not.
All these differences might be the difference between a wartime Army and peacetime Army as well. I will admit that.
The National Guard has gotten a little better about the schools thing, but you're right. They tell our guys that schools are never a problem, but it always is. The best time to get any is right before a deployment when sourcing dictates requirements and funding opens up.
As far as the Commander I mentioned previously, he is former active duty (not going to mention unit or previous deployments.) He did his four years, and went NG. What is also concerning, is that this is his second Command. And our Battalion Commander and past Battalion Commander have always been very engaged in their Leadership, I think this is just an example of immaturity that slipped through the crack.
Personally, I hoping to go to Ranger School after this next deployment. I'm in the chute for Command now so we'll see where I stand then. At any rate, I have nothing to prove to my Soldiers. A tab however, might make future movement easier should I decide to pursue retirement. Right now, I'm scheduled for Pathfinder in November, so wish me luck!
|Highly Experienced Member|
Good Luck on Pathfinder! Thats not an easy school either. Wouldn't worry about the Ranger tab for NG there were some LT's without it in the 1980's NG. Not a lot but some and it was lack of funds.
My last year in the WIARNG (early 1984) my BN Commander drove through our motorpool to inspect it with mirrored wire rim sunglasses on. Damn he looked funny and he was a LTC. WIARNG used to have a Blue Goose Party during Annual Training at Ft. McCoy for Officers with a stuffed goose someone spray painted blue. It was the middle weekend of AT (Sat night I think) and the XO and some PL would return to the bivoauc site a little inebriated. I think I remember the Medics bring the XO back on a stretcher (lol). I'm sure thats stopped as well.
My Nephew is in the National Guard he was somewhat negative about it until he got his SP4 then turned positive with his SGT stripes, now he is talking about re-enlisting. He is pretty smart and has an excellent GPA, great behavior record so score for WIARNG. I am surprised he is thinking about re-enlisting.
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