Ranger News

The Ranger News Blog presents current news within the Ranger community; members and the public viewing our website can add comments.

  • 09/21/2010 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    A viewing on Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Cottonwood Heights 7th Ward, 2522 E. 6710 S. Funeral Services will be held Saturday, September 25, 2010, 11:00 a.m. at Cottonwood Heights 7th Ward, 2522 E. 6710 S. A viewing will be held, 10:00-10:45 a.m. prior to service. Interment Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Fallen Warrior Charitable Fund in the name of Aaron Kramer at any Zion's Bank. Online guest book at www.jenkins-soffe.com

     

    COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS - A Utah man serving with the Army's 101st Airborne Division was killed during a firefight in Afghanistan on Thursday, according to members of his family.

    Sgt. Aaron Kramer, 22, was wounded during a gunfight Thursday morning and was being evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Kabul when he died from his wounds, the family said.

    His twin brother, Brandon, also a ranger-qualified airborne infantryman, recently returned from a tour in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and flew with his parents to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to accompany his brother's body home.

    The Defense Department had not officially announced the Utah sergeant's death as of Friday afternoon.

    The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 convinced both of the Kramer brothers to serve their country in the military, said their older sister, Jennifer Schroader. Aaron Kramer was 13 at the time.

    "Aaron went in first and passed his Ranger school tests the first time," she said. "Brandon also passed the first time. It's a hard thing to do, but almost unheard of for brothers to go through and pass the first time."

    Aaron Kramer had already served a tour in Iraq and was married this spring just before he shipped out for Afghanistan. His wife, Jackie, lives in Wisconsin.

    The street leading to the cul-de-sac where the Kramer family lives was lined Friday with 106 American flags, placed by the Boy Scouts to honor Aaron. Another 20 flags lined the front of the house, and a flagpole in the yard had its banner at half-staff.

    "He wasn't just Aaron undefined he was 'Aaron and Brandon,' because until they joined the Army, they were always together. It was just one name undefined Aaron and Brandon," said the men's aunt Sharlene Elmer. She said it was unusual to see the boys wearing anything besides Army fatigues when they were younger. "It wasn't until they got out of basic training that they came home and said, 'I need some normal clothes to wear.' "

    Aaron Kramer's parents, Shannon and Richard Kramer, are expected to return home from Delaware this evening. The family has not yet received official word of when their son's body will arrive in Utah.

    Schroader, who lives with her husband and two sons in Las Vegas, greeted a steady stream of family and neighbors at her parents' house Friday. "I'm so thankful my phone has been ringing nonstop," she said. "I want people to know what an amazing brother he was, what an amazing husband, what an amazing uncle he was to my two boys."

    Kramer's father is an Army veteran, and his maternal grandfather was a navigator on a B-29 during World War II. Aaron Kramer and Brandon Kramer started training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school. "Once service to their country was planted in their hearts, there was just no turning back," Elmer said. "They're both so tender-hearted; it made it harder for us to picture them in the Army."

    Funeral plans have not yet been announced.

     

  • 09/21/2010 2:12 PM | Anonymous

    1st Lt. Todd William Weaver, 26, was killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Sept. 9. He died while leading his platoon and protecting the freedoms of the family, friends, and country he loved.

    Lt. Weaver’s short life was full, happy, and exceptionally accom­plished. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was a decorated officer with an extremely bright future in the military. A lifelong world traveler, he had lived and journeyed across five continents.

    A brilliant scholar, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary in 2008.  He was also a graduate of Bruton High School, where as a quarterback and baseball star he excelled at athletics as well as academics.

    Lt. Weaver touched countless lives with his love and light, and many remain to find ways of carrying on his example of courage, determination, and selflessness. In 2008 he married Emma, also a graduate of Bruton High as well as Radford University, Class of 2006. Their daughter, Kiley Honoria Nell, celebrated her first birthday while he was deployed in Kandahar.

    Siblings Glenn, Adrianna, and Kristina mourn the loss of their baby brother. Parents Donn and Jeanne grieve for their child.

    He was a beloved uncle to Silvia, Stephen, Rachel, Ethan, Daniel, Finn, and Astrid, and a best friend to many.

    Memorial Service:

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Williamsburg Community Chapel

    3899 John Tyler Highway

    Williamsburg, VA 23185-2400

    (757) 229-7152

    The church will open at 1 p.m. and the service will begin at 2 p.m.

    Burial:

    Lt. Weaver will be buried with highest honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. Arrival must be no later than 2:30 p.m. All are welcome at either or both services.

    In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any contributions be made to the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund (www.cfsrf.org).

    Original Story: 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver, 101st Airborne, killed in Afghanistan (September 10, 2010 17:20:15)

    A Fort Campbell Soldier died September 9th after being struck by an improvised explosive device as he was leading a dismounted area reconnaissance in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

    1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver, 26, of Hampton, VA, was an Infantry officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).  He joined the Army in October 2006 and arrived at Fort Campbell in April 2009.

    His awards and decorations include: Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Mobilization Device; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Air Assault Badge; Expert Infantry Badge; Parachutists Badge and the Ranger Tab.

    Weaver is survived by his wife, Emma Louise Elizabeth Weaver and daughter Kiley Honoria Nell Weaver, all of Clarksville, TN; father, Don A. Weaver and mother, Jeanne N. Weaver, both of Hampton, VA.

    A memorial service will be held in Afghanistan. Fort Campbell holds a monthly Eagle Remembrance Ceremony to honor fallen Screaming Eagles. The next ceremony will be held October 6th at 4:00pm at the Family Readiness Center.

  • 09/18/2010 10:02 PM | Anonymous

    Funeral Services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, September 18, 2010 at Evangel United Methodist Church in Holton, KS. Burial with full military honors will be in Soldier Cemetery. He will lie in state at Mercer Funeral Home beginning Thursday until Friday at 3:00 p.m. Visitation will be Friday evening at Evangel United Methodist Church from 6:00-8:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the McMahon Childrens College Fund c/o Mercer Funeral Home, Box 270, Holton, KS 66436. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mercerfuneralhomes.com.

     

     

    Original Story: Capt. Jason T. McMahon killed in Afghanistan (September 8, 2010 21:02:05)

    Fort Campbell, KY – A Fort Campbell Soldier died September 5th in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire in Jalalabad.

    Capt. Jason T. McMahon, 35, of Mulvane, KS, was an Ordnance officer commanding 744th Explosive Ordnance Company, 184th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 52nd Ordnance Group, Fort Campbell, KY. He joined the Army in November 1996, gained his commission in 2006, and arrived at Fort Campbell in September 2008.

    His awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Joint Meritorious Unit Accommodation; Valorous Unit Award; Meritorious Unit Citation; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Expeditionary Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Air Assault Badge; Combat Action Badge; Expert Infantry Badge; Master EOD Badge; Parachutists Badge; and the Ranger Tab.

    McMahon is survived by his wife, Jennifer L. McMahon, and daughters Trinity B., McKenzie J., and Azlyn J. McMahon, all of Dover, TN; father, Ronald McMahon; and mother, Sherry McMahon, both of Mulvane, KS.

  • 09/18/2010 1:42 PM | Anonymous

    US Army Ranger Stanley S. Karboski, 93, of Amboy, New York passed away Friday, August 6, 2010 at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Syracuse NY, with his family by his side.

    Stanley was born on April 18, 1917 in Amboy, the son of Adam and Eleanora Ferdyn Karboski. He grew up working on the family farms in Amboy and Parish with his brother and three sisters and attended Cornell University College of Agriculture.  On December 8, 1951, Stanley married the former Dora Alsworth.  They enjoyed a blessed union of 58 years. 

    Stanley enlisted in the United States Army in April 1941. A distinguished military career during World War II started with his selection to serve in the 1st Ranger Battalion, a new commando style assault unit later called Darby’s Rangers after their commanding officer, Colonel William O. Darby. The first Rangers trained in Scotland with the British Commandoes and obtained notoriety and a Presidential Unit Citation for their many night attacks in the North African campaign.  As a veteran of the highly successful 1st Battalion, Stanley as a 1st SGT was assigned to the 4th Ranger Battalion as Colonel Darby trained two new Ranger battalions and led them through the numerous assault landings and battles of the Italian campaign.  Stanley was one of the few Rangers of the 1St, 3rd and 4th Battalions (Ranger Force) that returned to the Allied beachhead landing of Anzio from the Battle of Cisterna.  He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

    On August 8, 2007, Stanley was inducted into the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga. His induction citation reads:

    Ranger Stanley Karboski is inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame for his exemplary and dedicated service to Ranger and the Ranger Battalions spanning the years of World War II. Ranger Karboski’s unwavering duty to his country during a time of war is unsurpassed, and his contributions as a First Sergeant to the newly formed 4th Ranger Battalion were nothing short of remarkable.  He took his desire to defend his country to theaters of combat round the world the world. During the battle of Cisterna, Italy, German troops had Ranger Karboski’s unit pinned down. Realizing they were outnumbered, Ranger Karboski advised his company commander to move out while they still had the protection of darkness.  Only eight troops survived the next day. Ranger Karboski was severely wounded but he led the remainder of his element, with his arm nearly severed from his body, and made it 12 miles on foot to safety.  His actions that fateful day continue to inspire young Rangers and Soldiers currently serving this great nation in operations around the globe. Ranger Karboski is a true American Hero whose service to our nation is truly outstanding.

    After the war, Stanley started his own business operating GLF-Agway feed stores in Parish and Central Square, and became well known in the town basketball and baseball leagues. He remained an avid sportsman throughout his life, taking up deep woods Adirondack deer hunting and fishing trips into northern remote Canada. The Canadian fishing trips led him to exploring northern Quebec province in the Ungava Bay region for fishing and hunting, where in the early 1960’s, Stanley was one of the first outfitters to open the territory to sportsmen.  He started his own business, Whale River Outfitters, Inc. in 1965, building one of the world’s finest Atlantic salmon sport fishing camps on an island in the Whale River.  Stanley never missed a single season of going north until his illness in 2010. His son, Mike, was operating the camp when Stanley passed away and will continue the business.

    Surviving Stanley besides his beloved wife, Dora, are his children, Stephen and Mary Karboski, Deerfield, Frank and Joanne Karboski, Camden, Mike and Luciette Karboski, Williamstown, Gloria Karboski, Fernwood and Lisa and Greg Weaver, North Carolina. Also surviving are his grandchildren, Amber, Stephen, Adam, Jaclyn, Zach, Nickolas, Jarvis, Troy, Joseph, Brittney, Brianna, John and Laura.  He is also survived by his sister, Elizabeth (Betty DePaulis) and many nieces and nephews.

    Stanley was predeceased by two sisters, Sister Mary Viterba and Sister Regina, and brother, Frank Karboski.  Stanley is the second 1st Battalion Darby’s Ranger native to central New York to recently pass away this year, predeceased by his follow Ranger and long-time friend Vance Keener.

    A Memorial Service at Pleasant Lawn Cemetery, Parish, New York will be held at 10:00 a.m. on September 25, 2010 where military honors will be observed.  Immediately following graveside services, the Karboski family invites all who attend to join them at the Candlelight Restaurant, 380 S. Railroad St., Parish as they gather to share stories and laughter and commemorate Stanley’s life. 

    Stanley’s grandson, First Lieutenant Adam Karboski is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade, Fort Lewis.  He graduated from Ranger school in July 2009 and just recently returned from deployment with his unit in Iraq in time to attend his grandfather’s memorial service.

    Directions to Pleasant Lawn Cemetery, Parish, New York.

     


    View Larger Map

     

  • 09/11/2010 1:59 PM | Anonymous

    DES MOINES, Iowa (Courtesy of The Associated Press) undefined A 25-year-old soldier from Iowa who exposed himself to enemy gunfire to try to save two fellow soldiers will become the first living service member from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

    President Barack Obama phoned Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, on Thursday at the base in Italy where he's stationed to tell him he'd be receiving the nation's highest military honor, Giunta's father told The Associated Press. He will become the eighth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The seven previous medals were awarded posthumously.

    "It's bittersweet for us," said Steven Giunta, of Hiawatha. "We're very proud of Sal. We can't mention that enough, but in this event, two other soldiers were killed and that weighs heavy on us. You get very happy and very proud and then you start dealing with the loss as well. You can't have one without the other."

    Giunta was serving as a rifle team leader with Company B 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment when an insurgent ambush split his squad into two groups on Oct. 25, 2007, in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, the White House said in a news release.

    Giunta went above and beyond the call of duty when he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a fellow soldier back to cover. He engaged the enemy again when he saw two insurgents carrying away another soldier, killing one insurgent and wounding the other before providing aid to the injured soldier, who died of his wounds.

    "His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from enemy hands," the White House said.

    Giunta, who enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, is now stationed in Italy with the Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He was in his second tour of duty in Afghanistan at the time of the ambush.

    Giunta, who was previously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other medals, called his parents after hearing from the president, his father said.

    "He was very honored to talk to the president but he's very reserved about it," Steven Giunta said. "It's not something he's comfortable with, the event or the Medal of Honor.

    Steven Giunta said his son is humbled because he believes he was just doing what he was supposed to be doing.

    "He mentions every other soldier would have done the same thing. It kind of rocks his world that he's being awarded the Medal of Honor for something each and every one of them would have done. He's very aware of that."

    "What a privilege and honor it is and what the men have done over the years to receive it, the feat, the above and beyond portion of it, it's amazing to me," Steven Giunta said.

    Giunta will be awarded his medal at a White House ceremony at a date yet to be determined.

    The President will present the Medal of Honor posthumously to Staff Sgt. Robert Miller in a White House ceremony on Oct. 6.

  • 09/09/2010 10:33 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service), Sept. 9, 2010 – In an Oct. 6 ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Honor to the parents of a soldier who died while saving members of his team and 15 Afghan soldiers.

    Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who was 24 years old when he died, will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic actions in Barikowt, Afghanistan, on Jan. 25, 2008.

    “He displayed immeasurable courage and uncommon valor --eventually sacrificing his own life to save the lives of his teammates and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers,” White House officials said in a written statement issued today announcing the honor.

    Miller’s parents, Phil and Maureen Miller, will join the president at the ceremony, the statement said.

    Miller was born on Oct. 14, 1983, in Harrisburg, Pa., and graduated from Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, Ill. Shortly after his family moved to Oviedo, Fla., he enlisted in the Army in August 2003 as a Special Forces candidate. He attended basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., and received his Green Beret in 2005.

    He served as a weapons sergeant in Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

    His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Special Forces tab, the Ranger tab and the parachute badge.

    In addition to his parents, he is survived by brothers Thomas, Martin and Edward and sisters Joanna, Mary, Therese and Patricia.

  • 09/03/2010 4:09 PM | Anonymous

    FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The Ranger Training Brigade is looking for a growth spurt in the ranks.

    Facing critical shortages across the Army, the unit has cranked up a recruiting campaign to lure more candidates to Ranger School, especially at the junior NCO level.

    Lt. Col. Kyle Feger, the RTB's deputy commander, said the brigade needs more staff sergeants to serve as Ranger instructors, so it's seeking out junior NCOs to volunteer for Ranger School in an effort to create better-trained combat leaders and fill Army-wide vacancies.

    "As evidenced across our entire force, the RTB and U.S. Army as a whole is critically short on Ranger-qualified staff sergeants in particular," he said. "The RTB is currently filling just over half of its authorized numbers of Ranger-qualified staff sergeants and having to rely more heavily on sergeants first class for Ranger instructors ... And only Ranger-qualified NCOs can serve as Ranger instructors."

    Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Smith, the RTB's command sergeant major, said the Army has only 850 Infantry staff sergeants with Ranger tabs - and about 2,100 slots available. Excluding the RTB and 75th Ranger Regiment, that gap is even more pronounced, he said.

    "I want to recruit the specialists and sergeants," he said. "That's who we're targeting, because most commands are reluctant to let their staff sergeants and sergeants first class go off to Ranger School. They're just too valuable."

    "If we can recruit some specialists and sergeants, we'll really see a boost in numbers in three to five years."

    Ranger School, however, certainly isn't easy, and it's not for everyone, RTB leaders said. But the rewards are high and offer Soldiers a great career progression tool, both inside and outside the Army.

    "There are no words to describe the pride of being a Ranger," Smith said. "And that Ranger tab will open a lot of doors for you as a Soldier and a leader, not only in the Army but when you get out. It says something about your character, leadership ability and mental toughness. Anyone who knows anything about Ranger School, and sees that tab on your shoulder, knows you're a cut above. And they want you on their team."

    Ranger candidates must be highly motivated, extremely physically fit and possess a solid baseline knowledge of small-unit tactics, Feger said. They must pass a medical screening to ensure they don't have any defects that might contribute to complications during the strenuous course.

    He said "high-risk training" takes place nearly every day within the RTB, including Airborne, air assault, mountain and waterborne operations. Rangers get only three to five hours of sleep at training, depending on their performance, and eat just two MREs a day, about 2,000 to 3,000 calories. They also must deal with extreme weather conditions.

    "The cumulative effects of the physical demands, coupled with the added stressors of food and sleep deprivation, create the largest hurdle for Ranger students," he said.

    The first three days are easily the most difficult, RTB leaders said. It consists of physically demanding events - including a five-mile run, land-navigation tasks and 15.5-mile foot march - strung together over about 72 hours that challenge the candidates before they ever start the patrolling-techniques phase.

    "It's a hard three days because it's nonstop," Smith said. "Most people do not come prepared for that ... (But) if you pass the first three days, your chance of graduating is about 75 percent."

    Feger called Ranger School the "single-most important leadership course" in the Army, if not the entire Department of Defense. He said it gives Soldiers the confidence and tools to take charge of their units and lead them through any situation.

    "Becoming a Ranger-qualified leader in our Army today is an awesome achievement," he said. "Because it is such a small population of personnel across the Army and throughout our history, just becoming a Ranger has a huge meaning to those men who have volunteered and made the grade. But it's not about what it does for the individual."

    "More importantly, it is about what that individual is now expected to live up to, every day, in leading their men in accordance with the principles of the Ranger creed - leading the way by setting the standard for others to follow."

    WHO'S ELIGIBLE FOR RANGER SCHOOL?

    Male Soldiers in ranks specialist and above. The combat exclusion clause remains in effect so female Soldiers cannot attend by policy. Personnel in the grade of E-3 not assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment or Ranger Training Brigade must submit a request for waiver through his chain of command. While it's not mandatory for Ranger School, about 80 percent of each class is Airborne-qualified.

    Complete dental and health records, including original physical examination (SF 88, SF 93 and supporting documents) must be submitted, dated within 18 months of Ranger course start date and signed by a physician stating the applicant is medically qualified to attend Ranger training.

    HOW DO YOU MAKE THE CUT?

    Ranger training lasts 61 days, and the first three are the toughest. Historically, about 60 percent of the overall course drops occur in Week 1 during the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP. Events include a physical fitness test on the first morning requiring 49 push-ups, 59 situps, six pull-ups and a five-mile run in less than 40 minutes. The first 72 hours also include the Combat Water Survival Assessment, three-mile "buddy run," Malvesti Obstacle Course, night and day land navigation over several kilometers, and a 15.5-mile foot march from Camp Rogers to Camp Darby on post.

    Those who make it past that crucible still must demonstrate technical and tactical competence on graded patrols such as reconnaissance and ambush. Each phase includes peer evaluations in which candidates rate each other from first to last based on their ability to work as a team member and pull their weight.

    Patrol and peer evaluations continue into the mountain phase at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., where platoon operations are conducted over extremely rugged mountainous terrain. Then, it's on to Camp Rudder, Fla., where the Ranger hopefuls continue through waterborne operations in the coastal swamps.

    Soldiers interested in becoming a Ranger instructor should contact the RTB's personnel office.

  • 09/03/2010 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    KABUL, Afghanistan (Kimberly Dozier, AP)  The new top commander in Afghanistan is talking up a weapon that has been kept in the shadows for years - special operations missions to kill or capture key insurgents - to try to convince skeptics the war can be won.

    More than previous commanders, Gen. David Petraeus has released the results of special operations missions - 235 militant leaders were killed or captured in the last 90 days, another 1,066 rank-and-file insurgents killed and 1,673 detained - to demonstrate the Taliban and their allies are also suffering losses as NATO casualties rise.

    Petraeus told reporters traveling Friday with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, that in the past 24 hours, special operations forces carried out eight missions, capturing three targeted individuals. Four more were believed killed or detained, Petraeus said.

    Accentuating the positive is part of Petraeus' media style, developed when he commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and was widely credited with helping turn the tide in that war.

    Those skills are part of what the White House knew it needed when President Barack Obama selected the four-star general in July to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal, after remarks critical of the administration appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.

    Since taking command, Petraeus has used a series of high-profile media interviews to try to reverse the wave of pessimism about the war, especially within Congress and the American public.

    Playing up missions by special operations forces - Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Army Rangers and Green Berets - offers a way to demonstrate that the U.S. and its NATO partners are taking the fight to the Taliban.

    Petraeus has shared key heretofore classified data with reporters at a level of detail that surprised many U.S. officials here and in Washington.

    A senior official in Kabul downplayed the notion that publicizing these details is calculated to win public support, saying it simply highlights one of the war's successes. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the commander's strategy.

    Special operations missions are now at their highest tempo, with nearly 4,000 carried out between May and August, according to officials here.

    U.S. officials are sensitive to the suggestion that Petraeus is using the spec-ops successes for public effect, perhaps because it harks back to the largely discredited body counts of the Vietnam war.

    But back in Washington, the release of information was warmly welcomed in some quarters, offsetting the daily drumbeat of rising U.S. casualties. At least 28 U.S. service members have been killed in the past week.

    Special operations troops have been in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001, working with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance to drive the Taliban from power after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States and later to pursue al-Qaida leaders.

    Last fall, McChrystal, who commanded special operations forces in Iraq, stepped up the tempo, broadening their mission to include killing or capturing midlevel commanders in the Taliban and their allies in the Haqqani network.

    What's new is that Petraeus and his aides are talking about it.

    By highlighting their successes, Petraeus could earn bankable political capital that he will need if he recommends that Obama slow the drawdown of U.S. troops that the president promised will begin next July.

    This does not mean that Petraeus is shifting emphasis from traditional counterinsurgency strategy - clearing territory, holding it, building on it, and then turning it over to the Afghan government.

    In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press and two other news organizations, Petraeus spoke of spec-ops successes, but added: "You don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial strength insurgency."

    However, demonstrating progress is difficult in a war fought in hundreds of small, scattered engagements, where frontlines do not move and where cities do not fall.

    That's where the spec-ops raids come in. The mystique of elite, highly trained commandos swooping down on an unsuspecting Taliban leader in the dead of night plays well back home, especially at a time when much of the news from Afghanistan focuses on rising American deaths and frustration with the Afghan government.

    Heavy use of special operations forces is not without risk. Afghans from President Hamid Karzai to lowly village elders complain night raids offend Afghan culture and turn the population against the international coalition.

    Last spring, Vice Admiral Bill McCraven, who heads up the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command Forward, traveled to a small village in Gardez province to apologize to Afghan elders, after his troops killed two armed men during a nighttime raid in February. The elders claimed three women died in the crossfire.

    U.S. officials insist that an Uzbek militant leader was killed in a helicopter strike on his convoy Thursday in the northern province of Takhar. Karzai and the local governor dispute this, saying the convoy contained a candidate for parliament his campaign workers.

    A U.S. defense official here says such armed actions are the exception. The official said one special operations task force recorded no shots fired in 973 out of 1,225 missions in the 12 months ending in August. The targets simply gave up without a fight. The official added up to 10 Afghan special forces troops take part in each raid, often in the lead, when the force reaches the target.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe classified operations.

    U.S. officials believe the increased operational tempo by such forces over the past year has begun to bite into the insurgent network in the central part of Helmand province, a southern area that has seen some of the bloodiest fighting of the past two years.

    U.S. intelligence has tracked a breakdown in regular communications between local commanders in Helmand and their leadership in Quetta, in the border region of Pakistan, according to defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

    There is anecdotal evidence, the officials say, that resentment is building in the midlevel ranks of the Taliban, aimed at the top commanders who are safely ensconced in Quetta or in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan.

    Still, the senior U.S. official in Kabul concedes spec-ops forces have not yet reversed the Taliban's momentum nationwide.

    There's progress in some areas, he said, but "we clearly need to do more in others."

    Kimberly Dozier reports on intelligence and counterterrorism for The Associated Press in Washington.

  • 09/02/2010 3:25 PM | Anonymous

    FORT BENNING, Ga. undefined The 75th Ranger Regiment has refined its assessment and selection process to expand the training and evaluation windows for potential candidates.

    The unit is sending some Soldiers straight to Ranger School from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and Small Unit Ranger Tactics course, instead of to a battalion and deployment. The first two to take that route undefined SGT Joshua Fish and SPC Brendan Smith undefined graduated Aug. 27.

    “What makes these guys unique is they’re the first to graduate from RASP 1 and go on to Ranger School,” said SFC Tyson Crosby, NCOIC of RASP 1. “Normally how it works, a guy will graduate from RASP 1, he’ll go to his battalion, he’ll train up and he might do one or two deployments ... Then, when his leadership determines he’s ready to go to Ranger School, they’ll send him to SURT first. The difference here is these guys have never been to a battalion.”

    RASP 1 replaced the regiment’s Ranger Indoctrination Program in January, Crosby said. The instruction period for RASP 1 is eight weeks long, compared to four under the old RIP system. RASP 1 is for pay grades E-1 to E-5, while Soldiers E-6 and above undefined including officers undefined go through RASP 2.

    He said the adjustments were made to give the regiment more time to scrutinize prospective unit members. Under the RIP, the top 5 percent of graduates were sent to Ranger School, as selected by cadre.

    “We want the best guys in the (75th) Ranger Regiment,” he said. “The longer we have to assess and select them and make sure they’re performing, the better … That’s the reason we changed it, so we continue to select the best guys for service in the Ranger regiment.

    “When it comes down to it, one really good guy or great guy is better than three average ones.”

    Smith’s journey went from one station unit training and Airborne School to RASP 1 and SURT, a three-week regimental program that mirrors the Warrior Training Center’s Pre-Ranger Course. Then came 61 days in Ranger School.

    Fish, who was already in the Army, started at RASP 1 and SURT but had to go to Ranger School before joining the regiment. All Infantry sergeants seeking an assignment at the 75th must be Ranger School graduates. Soldiers in lower ranks can attend at a later date, even if they failed on first attempts.

    “These guys are the first to complete the new pipeline,” said SFC Eric Bohannon, the regiment’s SURT NCOIC. “We’re definitely looking for quality over quantity.”

    The regiment must send 550 to 600 Soldiers through RASP 1 each year to generate enough Skill Level I Rangers to meet operational demands undefined based on historical loss-and-retention trends, according to data provided by the unit.

    The first RASP 1 class graduated in March. The eighth completed the course Sept. 2. The most recent group began with 165 Soldiers, but only about 40 graduated Thursday. The regiment’s objective is nine RASP 1 classes a year.

    The last SURT class, which set out with 84 Soldiers, sent only 48 to Ranger School, Bohannon said.

    Crosby said there are greater advantages within this setup than what was done before under RIP.

    “It’s more time that my cadre have with the candidates,” he said. “It’s more time they get to see them in different situations to make sure they’re picking the right guys, because what you don’t want are guys who score 300 on their PT test, they road march really fast, they’re really strong, but they just don’t have what it takes. Mentally, their learning curve is too steep to be in this type of unit. We need smart guys, too.”

    VOLUNTEER FOR DUTY

    To meet minimum requirements for the RASP and assignment in the 75th Ranger Regiment, all Soldiers must be:

    * An active-duty Army male * A U.S. citizen * 107 or higher in General Technical score on ASVAB test * 240 or above (80 in each event) in Army Physical Fitness Test score * Airborne-qualified or agree to attend Airborne training prior to assignment * Eligible to obtain a secret clearance

    * Soldiers interested in joining the unit should call 706-545-5124 or send an e-mail to 75recruit@soc.mil. For more information, visit https://www.infantry.army.mil/75thranger.

  • 09/02/2010 2:12 PM | Anonymous

    FORT BENNING, Ga. undefined SGT Joshua Fish said tales from a former platoon sergeant he served with in Germany lured him into the 75th Ranger Regiment. SPC Brendan Smith was a college graduate looking to escape his desk job.

    They now have the distinction of being the first Soldiers to vault directly out of the unit’s Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and graduate from Ranger School without first joining a battalion.

    “I was in the ‘Big Army’ before, and figured if you’re going to go to war with someone, I’ll go to war with the best,” said Fish, 22, of Curwensville, Pa. “It was pretty challenging from start to finish, mainly the length of it. But I definitely got good training out of it. You’re around the cadre all the time, so you see what right looks like (and) strive to look like them.”

    Smith said he attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and became a recruiter for an engineering firm. But the 24-year-old native of Springfield, Vt., was seeking a tougher challenge outside his comfort zone.

    “In the back of my mind, I always wanted to be a Ranger. I wasn’t getting any younger, so now’s the time to do it,” he said. “I wanted to be a cut above, I wanted to be part of a more elite group.”

    Smith said he had some “very challenging days” along the way. There were 318 to be exact, from the moment he reported at the 30th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) until Ranger School graduation August 27.

    “The rewards outweigh the hard days, by far,” he said.

    Fish said he believes changes this year in the regiment’s assessment procedures will pay long-term dividends.

    “The selection process is very good, really in-depth,” he said. “They put you in challenging situations to see how you react, and basically base it off that. You’re constantly in a leadership position there … so you’re constantly being evaluated on your leadership skills, and just your personal motivation also, whether you want to be there or not.”

    Smith is headed to the regiment’s 1st Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., while Fish joins 3rd Battalion at Fort Benning.

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