New Ranger Regiment for British Army
No sooner had my first novel, Better to Die, hit the streets than the UK Ministry of Defence announced that it was creating a new ‘Ranger Regiment’, along the lines of the US Green Berets. This came as something of a surprise as most of my novel’s story revolves around the fictional King’s Royal Rangers. How does the saying go: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’? Thanks MOD!
But how is this new unit to operate?
There are reports that it will be training, advising, enabling and accompanying partner forces from foreign countries. It will embed with foreign forces to help combat emerging conflicts before they escalate. It will assist with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It will also provide military cyber expertise.
But there are so many unanswered questions?
If the Ranger Regiment is to be 1,000 strong, and consists of four battalions, then it suggests that each battalion will only be 250 strong. Not only a very small size for a battalion (they are usually upwards of 500 troops), but also allowing several full-sized battalions elsewhere to be cut.
Where will the troops come from? The advance information is that they will be ‘seeded’ from a handful of existing battalions. Does it mean that these are the battalions scheduled for the chop? Alternatively, does it suggest that some battalions will lose their very best troops to the Rangers, finding themselves very much as second-rate organisations?
Will there be some form of selection to become a Ranger? The Battalion’s likely tasks suggest that this is unnecessary. But what credibility would the Rangers then have within the Special Forces community without setting a high bar for acceptance.
And how will the Ranger battalions become so expert in these exportable skills? Will all troops undertake a generic course to prepare them for the role, or will there be a succession of training courses matched to likely tasks – from intelligence to cyber warfare?
Finally, what about the rank structure and level of experience? A traditional battalion is an organisational pyramid, with the commanding officer at the top, and command cascading down through field officers, junior officers, senior NCOs, junior NCOs, to the private soldiers at the bottom. But private soldiers just don’t have the level of experience and maturity to export high quality training to the UK’s overseas partners. One report states that ‘a large number of battle-hardened non-commissioned Army officers will be taken into the ranger regiment to take advantage of their experience’. But which regiments will be giving up the best of their sergeants to this new unit?
So…a lot of questions to be answered. I guess the crux is whether this is an exciting development for the UK’s armed forces, adapting to a new era of warfare…or is it just a glitzy way of hiding severe cuts to the infantry. I guess only time will tell.