Ranger Regiment: What we know about Army's new elite force

The regiment will be part of a new Special Operations Brigade, with hopes it will be deployable from next year.

The British Army is standing up its new 'Ranger Regiment' today, 1 December.

Set to be at the heart of a Special Operations Brigade, the thousand-strong Ranger Regiment will be "open to anybody in the Armed Forces", according to the former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also told MPs the regiment would be "partly special" as better equipment and "more selected" troops will form a key part of the Rangers.

Watch: Ranger Regiment – the Army's radical future soldiers.

The new Special Operations Brigade will replace the existing Specialised Infantry Group, and the Army hopes to be able to deploy it by 2022.

It will see soldiers take on roles usually carried out by Special Forces personnel, operating in high-threat environments to train, advise and accompany allies.

The Chief of the General Staff says the brigade will "build on the lessons that we've learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan about just how important it is to build up local and regional capacity".

It is part of a significant restructuring of the British Army following the publication of the Government's Defence Command Paper –  which laid out plans for the Armed Forces over the coming decade.

Ranger Regiment: matching 'brainpower with firepower'

The new Ranger Regiment will be formed of four "all-arms" battalions, each of about 250 personnel.

To begin with, it will be 'seeded' from the four current Specialised Infantry Battalions: 1 SCOTS (which will become 1st Battalion, Ranger Regiment), 2 PWRR, 2 LANCS, and 4 RIFLES (which will become 4th Battalion, Ranger Regiment, along with elements of 3rd Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles).

The new regiment will receive £120m over the next four years to equip it.

Watch: New Ranger Regiment will match 'brainpower with firepower'.

It will be routinely deployed around the world supporting allied nations in delivering defence and security.

Mozambique and Somalia have been reported as two of the countries under consideration for the first deployment.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the new regiment would be at the forefront of a more "active and engaged" Armed Forces, adding this month that its personnel could be sent to Africa or the Middle East, rather than just working with NATO allies, and will deploy in teams.

Mr Wallace added that money has already been spent on equipment to make the Rangers more "independent", with the new regiment expected to deploy without the usual logistical support given to others.

The Defence Secretary said the formation will be a "more selected cadre of people, with better equipment", and also confirmed one of the Ranger battalions will be based in Northern Ireland.

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, meanwhile, has said previously the Ranger Regiment will be the "vanguard of the Army's global footprint", adding that it will be: "Matching brainpower with firepower, data and software with hardware."

In time the Special Operations Brigade will select personnel from across the Army.

Everyone serving in the Ranger Regiment will wear a metal cap badge, inspired by a peregrine falcon, according to the British military, due to the bird's loyalty and ability to operate in all environments.

Meanwhile, the regiment's beret and stable belt will be gunmetal grey, in homage to the peregrine falcon's colour.

According to the Defence Command Paper, the Ranger Regiment "will be aligned with the new divisions of infantry".

"They will be able to operate in complex, high-threat environments, taking on some tasks traditionally done by Special Forces," the document continues.

"This work will involve deterring adversaries and contributing to collective deterrence by training, advising and, if necessary, accompanying partners."

Semi-anonymous 4 RIFLES soldier from BPC mentoring Iraqi border guard force at Al Asad
A member of 4 RIFLES mentoring Iraqi forces (Picture: MOD).

Selection Process

Forces News has exclusively revealed new information about the selection process for the Ranger Regiment.

The process will be as follows:

Cadre Course – A two-week assessment that selected individuals from throughout the entire Army can tackle, judging their aptitude from the start.

Ranger Course – The second stage sends successful Cadre Course applicants on a six-week course. This could take place in a number of places, including outside the UK.

Those who pass through the Ranger Course then join a Ranger battalion for eight months of training.

This includes fundamental and mission-specific skills training and special role training.

There is also operational partner training at this stage, which will prepare personnel for interaction with foreign UK partners (training, advising and, if necessary, accompanying them).

All personnel who are moving from the Army's Specialised Infantry Battalions to form the Ranger Regiment's 'all arms' battalions will have passed the Cadre Course and Ranger Course already.

Those who fail to pass the courses will return to their cap badges.

New Ranger Regiment cap badge
New Ranger Regiment cap badge (Picture: British Army).

History of the 'Rangers'

According to the British Army, the Ranger Regiment's name comes from an 18th Century unit that saw action in North America, using "irregular tactics".

The first Ranger groupings fought in the French and Indian War, between 1754 and 1763, including the unit of Robert Rogers, who wrote '28 Rules of Ranging'.

These early units specialised in "unconventional warfare", such as forest ranging, and environments usually inaccessible to other forces, as well as carrying out reconnaissance roles.

Rangers were also used by both sides during the American War of Independence, with Robert Rogers' unit eventually evolving into a British Army regiment, the Queen's Rangers.

Watch: Ranger Regiment – could the new Army unit's first mission be in East Africa?

Following that conflict and loss of the North American colonies, the British Army was without a suitable environment to employ a ranger unit, and the ranging capability ceased to exist in the same way.

In 1800, the Experimental Rifle Corps was formed, carrying some of the skills deployed in North America.

According to the Army, regiments which incorporated the 'Ranger' name over the following decades included: Central London Rangers, The Connaught Rangers, The Royal Irish Rangers, and The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry.

Today, a 'Ranger' is a term used to describe a Royal Irish Regiment soldier, although the term's meaning differs from the original "unconventional warfare" definition.