The 75th Ranger Regiment, our nation’s most elite, large-scale special operations force, has been continuously deployed since October 19th, 2001. The organization’s success does not come from high-tech gear, but its specially selected and well trained people. At the heart of caring for the Regiment’s people are chaplains and religious affairs specialists.
Wherever you find Rangers, you will find Ranger Unit Ministry Teams. The high operational tempo and challenging ministry can be demanding, and the need to refocus and refuel is great. The Regiment’s UMTs met at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, for three days of intensive training February 16th to the 18th.
Training together is essential for chaplains and religious affairs specialists to maintain their own mission readiness and spiritual health. During this short window, the Regiment’s UMTs trained on a variety of skills necessary for providing religious support to their formations.
The three-day training focused on pastoral skills, community revitalization, understanding generational shifts, operational religious support planning, crisis ministry, and self-care. One unique aspect of the training was a venture off-post into academia. UMTs spent an afternoon at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, engaging in a discussion with author and educator Dr. Earl Creps on emerging trends in church ministry, and the implications of generational shifts in society.
"This training is vital to our ability to minister to our formation. There are generational gaps between senior leaders from Generation X, millennial leaders, and young Rangers from Generation Z," Staff Sgt. Jared Engel, 75th Ranger Regiment Regimental Religious Affairs non-commissioned officer said. "We have to understand our people and their needs, in order to advise our commands and provide the best possible ministry."
Later in the week, the UMTs transitioned more tactical training on operational planning and casualty ministry. The team explored case studies in mass casualty scenarios, and the rolls their predecessors had played.
Staff Sgt. Ben Wickerham, Company Senior Medic from Charlie Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, led hands on medical training that tailored to the unique roll of the UMT in a crisis. Special emphasis was placed on caring for dying or “expectant” patients, as some UMTs may be called on to do.
Throughout the week, the Ranger UMTs benefited from the expertise of many local trainers, including representatives from the Chief of Chaplains office, the 7th Infantry Division, Madigan Army Medical Center, and 1st Special Forces Group.
Sgt. Tyler Geurkink, Religious Affairs NCO at 3rd Ranger Battalion, was very involved in the training this year.
“Being a Religious Affairs Specialist with the 75th Ranger Regiment has provided me with rewarding experiences I never could have imagined, and training like this is one of them,” he said. “Whether its environmental training, mountaineering in the cascades, engaging in graduate level discussion with university faculty members, or throwing on night vision goggles to sharpen our skills in casualty care, this is the kind of event that equips us for the future, and brings the team together.”
Col. Todd S. Brown, Commander, 75th Ranger Regiment, summed up the importance of this event for the Regiment’s unit ministry teams.
"The 75th Ranger Regiment is ultimately in the people business, and our Chaplains and Religious Affairs Specialists are at the heart of that effort," Brown said. "Taking care of our force and Families can take a toll, and training like this helps us better care for the caregiver."