America's rangers: The story of America's first warriors and their journey from tradition to institution

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2011-08

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American Ranger and other specially trained light infantry units have been the leading edge of American warfare from the beginning. These all-volunteer units have exemplified the ultimate incarnation of the American military at every step in the progression of American warfare. American Ranger units have existed since the 1670’s in King Philip’s War and were present in every major American conflict except World War I. Because these units occupied the cutting edge of military tradition they have lacked permanence. Ranger units have been activated and deactivated in every major conflict they participated, only to be recalled at the outset of the next conflict; for the vast majority of American history they faced a provisional existence. Along with this void in stability these units have operated separately from the normal infantry units from which they are drawn. This has led them to develop a serious identity crisis in which they existed between the realms of Special Forces and supposed “Elite” Infantry, a situation that only contributed to their shaky existence. Despite these constant issues these specially trained light infantry units, most notably the Army Rangers, have existed since well before the United States became a nation and have continued throughout American history as the ultimate example of American fighting prowess.

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