We’re reading the excellent Sua Sponte by the excellent Dick Couch, one of the most accurate and honest chroniclers of the training and operations of our Special Operations Forces. In case you didn’t know already, Sua Sponte, a repurposed legal term, is the motto of the Ranger Regiment. In this book, Couch documents the selection and training of Rangers as has never been done.
Couch, a decorated Vietnam SEAL officer, has written extensively about the SEALS and SF, and what he’s written has been excellent. The SOF units like him because he tells the truth and observes OPSEC when he writes about him. The JSOC guys like Dick because he’s willing not to write about them, which is how they like it.
This immediate post comes about because of something one of the young privates in RASP (an important phase of Ranger selection) told Couch: of his OSUT (basic and advanced infantry training) class, at least a half dozen guys were already in Afghanistan, with no more prep than the rounds they’d fired on the flat and pop-up ranges in OSUT.
Per the private: under 200 rounds. “That’s scary,” he told Couch.
Yeah, it is.
When you load up for patrol, you carry more ammo than that.
The Rangers have always been, especially since the Battalions stood up in 1974, Light Infantry Done Right. Going to combat with only a couple hundreds of rounds, shot on flat ranges against unrealistic stationary pop-up targets, is infantry done all wrong. But before someone suggests we simply raise all infantry to the Ranger standard, all we can say is, not that simple. Read Dick’s book.
Ranger only works with a voluntary troop base, and most of them fall by the wayside. Doing it right is incredibly costly by any measure of cost, and we can’t do it for many thousands. But we can surely give an infantryman more trigger time on his primary weapon, and thorough familiarity — not just a few familiarization rounds, and no mechanical training, the current standard — with the several other weapons in the infantry platoon and company arms room.
And to those who say women are ready for infantry and ranger training (we’re lookin’ at you, GEN Odierno and your combat-shy simulacrum of a SMA), Read Dick’s book.