By U.S. ArmyOctober 17, 2014
General Odierno: Distinguished guests, General Votel, General Kernan, it is great to see you, Sir. Major General Miller, Colonel Vanek, Kim, all the rest of the leaders of the Rangers, present and past, it is really incredible to be here. It is wonderful to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Ranger Regiment. When the Army really truly decided and understood the importance of what our Rangers do as we continued to increase the capability that we had within the Ranger Regiment, to me it was a very important decision and very important time in our history. As I stand here today, I think about those Rangers who personally had an impact on me. One is Lieutenant General (Retired) Grange who for many years was responsible for training new General Officers as they became commanders. He spent hours and hours with me personally attempting to help me understand the art of war. I will never forget the time that he invested in us and the great lessons that we learned. It was an incredible experience.
Generals like General (Retired) Buck Kernan who was my assistant Division Commander when I was a Battalion Commander who taught me about training, who taught me about discipline, who taught me about leading Soldiers. I will never forget those lessons. I think about many of the Sergeant Majors, Sergeant Major (Retired) Mike Hall, whom I have run into several times over the last several years constantly out front, constantly leading, constantly bringing the Ranger Regiment to new heights. I will never forget his contributions as well as Sergeant Major (Retired) Mellinger, as I watched him in Iraq as the Senior Sergeant Major in Iraq and all that he did. These Sergeant Majors, like Sergeant Majors who continue to serve so admirably, set an example for all of us. So it is the Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers and the Ranger Regiment who continue to lead our Army, who continue to influence our Army. We have another great command team here in Chris Vanek and Sergeant Major Albertson who continue to do that not only here in the Ranger Regiment but throughout our Army.
The Rangers have a long storied lineage which I probably don't need to tell you dating back to World War II, to the shores of Omaha Beach, the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, where Major General Norman Cota, in 1944, yelled at the men of 2nd Ranger Battalion: "Rangers Lead the Way". These words have become the very core of every Ranger sworn to uphold the Ranger Creed. Since the activation of 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions in 1974, and later, the 3rd Battalion and Headquarters and Headquarters Company on October 3rd 1984, the Rangers have been at the tip of the spear. From Grenada to Panama, Desert Storm to Kosovo, Iraq to Afghanistan, the Rangers were always leading the way.
The 75th Ranger Regiment has proven themselves time and again as the professionals who thrive in the most challenging environments. Throughout the years, the Regiment has remained the most elite Infantry Force in the world. Every individual that served within the Regiment is a three time volunteer, volunteering first for the Army, then Airborne School, and finally the Ranger Regiment. They possess the highest caliber and degree of selfless service. Their extraordinary courage, valor, unwavering warrior ethos, and commitment to each other and their unit and their institution continues to make them the standard bearer for both our Nation's Army, but also our partners and allies whom they Soldier with around the world.
They also now have become the Special Operations premier raid force with over 13 years of continuous combat experience. The Ranger Regiment must carry on its tradition as a standard bearer for discipline and excellence. While doing this, you have built the most adaptable experienced and battle tested leaders capable of operating in the most complex environments. It has been that adaptability which made you the most elite force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even today, you continue to conduct integrated, synchronized, combined arms operations with the total Army, operating alongside our Conventional Forces and multinational partners and allies in contingencies around the world and in training.
It is incredibly important that the Regiment continue to link our Army's Brigade Combat Teams with our Special Operations Forces by migrating its best leaders, its tactics, its techniques, its procedures, training, equipment, and the warrior ethos to the operational force as we move forward and define what unified land operations will be in the future.
As we stand here today, we all must recognize that the velocity of change in the strategic environment is unprecedented. The velocity of instability is growing around the world. Tensions and conflicts will continue to erupt across the face of every continent, state and non-state actors, transnational threats and challenges yet unknown and many known are the issues that we will continue to face. With the cause of conflict remaining in the human dimension, the Regiment's unique skills and capabilities makes you unequivocally the tool of choice, thus the 75th Ranger Regiment will stand ready to execute the most difficult joint, Special Operations to include forcible entry missions required by our nation.
As we move into the future, you will continue to lead the way. The Ranger Regiment will be the first unit in the Army starting today to transition to the new operational camouflage pattern uniform for both training and every operation as we continue to transition the Army. You will be called to operate in a multi-domain environment across the full range of military operations. You will be operating on any number of continents across all Combatant Commands. I know that you will continue to perform admirably and honorably always accomplishing the mission just as you have throughout your history.
As we prepare to unveil the memorial honoring the Rangers who have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, we will never forget the Rangers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, as well as their families, by giving their lives in service to this great country. We also want to honor each member of the Ranger Regiment who has served so magnificently over the last 13 years of continuous combat and the sacrifice both them and their families have made. This monument will be a reminder of those sacrifices, often done quietly, often done across an entire family, but what I know is they will continue to answer the call when asked.
As we stand here I want to pray for the safe return of the Rangers that are deployed today around the world conducting the missions that our Nation needs them to conduct. So we want to honor their families. We also know that our families give us the strength and resilience to perform the most difficult and toughest missions our Nation faces. As I said earlier, we face a perilous and uncertain time around the world. I believe we will do this as a Nation for the foreseeable future. So we will once again be calling on the 75th Ranger Regiment to lead the way wherever and whenever we might be called.
We are very fortunate as a country to have men and women who not only believe in the values and ideals of this country and what it stands for, but are willing to fight for them. That is why it is such an honor for me to stand here today in front of them, those willing to give up everything for the love of their families, and the love of their fellow Soldiers, and the love of their country. God Bless all of you for the esteemed honor, leadership and integrity, personal courage and selfless service that you demonstrate every day.
The strength of our Nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families, and that is what makes us Army strong. Rangers lead the way.
Thank you very much.