Army

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

The British Army's Ranger Regiment, which stood up almost a year ago, are at the heart of the Army's new Special Operations Brigade

Created to meet the next challenges in warfare, through the Future Soldier transformation plan, the highly-trained Army unit was formed to conduct special operations usually conducted by Special Forces personnel.

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

The Special Operations Brigade replaced the Specialised Infantry Group.

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

The elite regiment recently deployed alongside US Special Operations Forces, putting new battlefield equipment to the test.

Ranger Regiment put cutting-edge battlefield technology to the test in the Mojave desert onProject Convergence 22.

Allies from the UK, US and Australia used cutting-edge battlefield technology to demonstrate future fighting capabilities in California's Mojave desert.

The Chief of the General Staff said the brigade would build on the lessons that had been "learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan about just how important it is to build up local and regional capacity".

The formation was 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.

Matching 'brainpower with firepower'

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

Initially, the regiment was 'seeded' from the four current specialised infantry battalions: 1 SCOTS (which became 1st Battalion, Ranger Regiment), 2 PWRR, 2 LANCS, and 4 RIFLES (which became 4th Battalion, Ranger Regiment, along with elements of 3rd Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles).

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

Ranger Regiment – the Army's radical future soldiers.

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

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last year said the new regiment would be at the forefront of a more "active and engaged" armed forces.

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

The Defence Secretary said the formation would be a "more selected cadre of people, with better equipment".

Then Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, previously said that the Rangers would be the "vanguard of the Army's global footprint", adding that it would be "matching brainpower with firepower, data and software with hardware."

In 2021, Former Army Chief Sir Mark Carleton-Smith spoke about the formation of the then new Ranger Regiment.

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

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

According to the Defence Command Paper, the Ranger Regiment on their formation would "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."

British Army Ranger Regiment on Project Convergence in the Mojave Desert 15112022 CREDIT BFBS
Ranger Regiment deployed alongside US Special Operations Forces, to put new battlefield equipment to the test in the Mojave desert.

Cap badge

The Ranger Regiment are very proud of its cap badge – which has been designed to demonstrate a new capability for the Army. 

Taking inspiration and spirit from the Peregrine Falcon; fast, agile and fiercely loyal to its partner, operating around the world in all environments including deserts, mountains and cities.

It follows a long history of birds being used as emblems and logos around the world. Peregrine derives from the medieval Latin word 'peregrinus' which means wanderer.

It is the most geographically dispersed bird of prey and can be found on every continent, less Antarctica. The bird is also the fastest bird on the planet, with a diving speed of over 200 miles per hour.

While many regiments have a cloth badge for officers and a metal badge for soldiers, everyone serving in the Ranger Regiment will wear a metal badge, irrespective of rank.

Ranger Regiment cap badge on the gunmetal grey set worn by Ranger Regiment 15112022 CREDIT BFBS
Ranger Regiment cap badge on the gunmetal grey set.

It follows a long history of birds being used as emblems and logos around the world. Peregrine derives from the medieval Latin word 'peregrinus' which means wanderer.

It is the most geographically dispersed bird of prey and can be found on every continent, less Antarctica. The bird is also the fastest bird on the planet, with a diving speed of over 200 miles per hour.

While many regiments have a cloth badge for officers and a metal badge for soldiers, everyone serving in the Ranger Regiment will wear a metal badge, irrespective of rank.

Selection Process

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter said the thousand-strong Ranger Regiment would be "open to anybody in the Armed Forces".

Forces News exclusively revealed the information about the selection process for the Ranger Regiment. The process would 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 would send 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 would join a Ranger battalion for eight months of training.

This would include 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.

Ranger Regiment during Project Convergence in the Mojave Desert 15112022 CREDIT BFBS.jpg_.jpg
Around 300 technologies were trialled during Project Convergence 2022, including long-range fires, uncrewed aerial systems, autonomous fighting vehicles and next-generation sensors.

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.

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.