British NCO 'leads by example,' earns Ranger tab
December 18, 2009
- British Sgt. Maj. serves as first sergeant at Fort Benning through Britain, U.S. partnership
- At 44, NCO is among oldest to attend U.S. Army Ranger School
- The Rangers graduated Friday
FORT BENNING, Ga. - A senior NCO is setting the example for NCOs and students with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment (Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course).
British Sgt. Maj. Alan Bissett, B Company's first sergeant, graduated Friday from the U.S. Army Ranger School.
"It's leading by example," Bissett said. "I've got young NCOs and lieutenants who aspire to do this, and I am now in a position to answer any questions they may have."
Bissett is one of three British soldiers serving in an exchange program at Fort Benning, said British army Lt. Col. Pat Tracy, the British liaison officer for Fort Benning and Fort Knox. An officer serves as an instructor at the Maneuver Captain's Career Course and an NCO serves with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
"We send people to America for these jobs and they are very carefully chosen, no surprises," Tracy said. "But it has surprised me how dedicated (Bissett) is. He never gives up and it's a good mark of the man."
Bissett, 44, may be one of the oldest students to graduate from the school, but his age didn't concern him.
"I didn't feel it. I prepared for it physically," Bissett said. "I wasn't going to use that as a reason to quit."
Bissett said the weather was an unexpected challenge.
"It is similar to courses I've taken in the British army, though they don't focus as much on the lack of sleep and lack of food," he said. "It's not so much the course, but the weather that is challenging. It has its moments but we are all in the same boat."
Bissett said he feels the camaraderie among Rangers that comes with earning the Ranger tab.
"It's a good link we have with the American Army. Next year, I am off to Afghanistan, Helmand Province, and if in some godforsaken place I run into an American with a Ranger tab, it will be another forged link," he said.
CSM Angel Ortiz, the senior NCO for 2nd Bn., 11th Inf. Regt., said Bissett has set the bar for future NCOs.
"He's got a great operational background throughout the world," said LTC Scott Halstead, commander of the 11th Inf. Regt. "The British army is very good at counterinsurgency, and he's brought those lessons learned to our cadre and students."
Bissett, a 23-year veteran, has served as B Company's first sergeant for nearly a year and a half. He completed the U.S. Army Airborne School last year. Prior to that, Bissett served on the Queen's Guard in England.
"I consider it a privilege and the best of all experiences," he said of his role at Buckingham Palace. "I've traveled to 38 countries and done nine operational tours."