FORT IRWIN, CALIF -- Opportunities for leadership and growth are plentiful at every step of a career with the United States Army. Each organization is committed to increasing its foundation of knowledgeable, trained, and highly-skilled Soldiers. For Chaplain (Capt.) Aaron Fabian, that opportunity came in the form of the United States Army Ranger School.
“Throughout my time in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), I wanted to pursue a career path in combat arms, but God called me to the Chaplain Corps during my junior year of college,” said Fabian. “I never let go of my interest in combat arms.”
Chaplain Fabian has been the Chaplain for 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, since December 2019. He is a native of Canterbury, Connecticut, and attended ROTC at the University of Connecticut where he was a Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) cadet in the Connecticut National Guard. He opted into an education delay and joined the Chaplain Candidate Program, while in seminary and serving in the Reserves. Fabian graduated seminary at Liberty University, Virginia in 2018, and later was selected for active duty.
In February 2021, Fabian attended Small Unit Ranger Tactics (SURT) at Fort Benning, Georgia with the 75th Ranger Regiment, before entering Ranger school. The school is a 61-day course that is broken into three separate phases (Darby, Mountain, and Florida phases) focusing on tactical fundamentals, combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment, and waterborne operations respectively.
“The school teaches you that you can go a lot longer and a lot farther than you think you can,” said Fabian. “I learned not to feel bad for myself in normal conditions. Your body and your mind can go the distance.”
Ranger school may very well put candidates into some of the most stressful environments they’ve ever encountered. Although the curriculum is focused on combat arms-related functional skills and direct fire engagements, Fabian found unique opportunities to meet religious needs during the course, as well as share his faith.
“I thought I was at a disadvantage [by] not being in combat arms. Towards the end, it felt that roles had reversed and that the squad needed that extra morale or light-heartedness when everyone was stressed out about being in a graded patrol or evaluated by their peers. I brought something to the table that I didn’t think I would,” said Fabian.
Now that Fabian is back at the National Training Center where Decisive Action Rotations occur ten times a year, he hopes to use his experiences to influence and empathize with Troopers in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
“You don’t have to sugarcoat things. You’re allowed to be in the suck because it’s really hot out here in the box. Some may pat people on the back when they have an actual crisis, but not me. It’s okay to go into the valley and walk through it with them instead of pretending that they are not in it.”
Chaplain Fabian graduated from the United States Army Ranger School with class 06-21 on June 25th, 2021. Fabian’s main takeaway from the school focused on resiliency and inclusion.
“Control what you can control,” said Fabian. “Lean on God, your Family, and your buddies to your left and your right. You don’t have to do this alone, and frankly, you can't.”