Armor branch aims to get more Ranger tabs for scouts
May 23, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 23, 2012) -- Now that the Armor School has planted new roots in the Maneuver Center of Excellence, it has a new mission: get more Cavalry scouts into Ranger School.
Facing a shortage of Ranger-qualified Soldiers in the 19 "Delta" military occupational specialty, Brig. Gen. Thomas James, the Armor School commandant and chief of Armor, has made a push for more to close a significant gap, officials said. The Army is only filling 17 percent of its authorized slots.
Part of that is due to the high operations tempo in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 10 years, said Sgt. Maj. Gregory Proft from the chief of Armor's office. Now, the organization wants to heighten awareness and get the Army's top Cavalry scouts -- specialists, sergeants and staff sergeants, in particular -- more interested in earning a Ranger tab.
"They're the future of our Army," Proft said. "Our leaders have to identify the windows when they can send their guys to school, because the opportunity exists. But it's also important that leadership selects the right Soldier. Leaders must be able to identify the guy who's motivated and intelligent with the potential and drive to complete the course."
Cavalry scouts can reap many professional and personal benefits by graduating from Ranger School, Armor officials said. It broadens a Soldier's military parameters and knowledge while opening up assignment possibilities for top performers and high achievers in the career field. In addition, only a Ranger-coded noncommissioned officer can serve as an instructor in the Ranger Training Brigade.
Proft said the Army's structure has evolved toward a combined-arms maneuver fight. Armor and Cavalry Soldiers are now routinely assigned to Armored, Infantry and Stryker brigade combat teams.
"You're going to learn how to maneuver with the Infantry. It's made us a better asset for both sides and made us all a better fighting force," said 1st Sgt. Norbert Neumeyer of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, who graduated from Ranger School three years ago at age 41. "We need to pick out people who are hungry and set them up for success. If a Soldier is hungry, you've got to feed that fire. It's going to make you more marketable and able to fit in more places. It's an opportunity we should not pass up."
The Armor School's move to Fort Benning and the MCoE has made it easier, he said. Soldiers have the option of attending the Warrior Training Center's Pre-Ranger Course on Harmony Church, which is in place to help curb the attrition rate at Ranger School.
"You have the ability to get acclimated here, and there's less chance for failure," Neumeyer said. "You can train up in the environment you'll be going to school at. I went in knowing I was coming out with a Ranger tab. I made that clear to myself and my unit."
Infantrymen, Cavalry scouts and tankers all must be aligned on the modern battlefield, which is constantly in flux and full of hybrid threats, said Sgt. 1st Class Mason Livingston of G Troop, 5th Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment. He graduated Ranger School in 2008 and said it builds stronger leaders with more credibility in the ranks.
"Our leadership needs to recognize the potential in Soldiers," he said. "But if you're going to question yourself or have a quitter's mentality, you're not going to make it.
"I thought I was a good leader before I went to Ranger School, and it was a reality check. There's a spectrum of leadership that goes there. You can be a private first class or a major, and both can be in charge of the other during the different scenarios in very adverse conditions. If you don't come out a better leader after that, something's wrong."