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    The Regimental Reconnaissance Company: Hidden Eyes of the Rangers

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    No army operates with strictly frontline soldiers, there are a myriad of units that carry out more specialized and essential functions to create a complex and adaptable force. Intelligence is perhaps one of the most strategically, operationally and tactically impactful aspects of war an army must address. For the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Regimental Reconnaissance Company (RRC) highly effectively fulfils just their intelligence needs. 

    Also known as Task Force Red, this specialized group carries out dedicated intelligence collection, rapid tactical response as well as operational support. Under the tier system for funding the Ranger Regiment as a whole is considered to be a tier two asset. However, Ranger Recon was considered tier one, as valuable as CAG or DEVGRU

    A full squad of the Regimental Reconnaissance Company outfitted with SOPMOD Block 1 M4A1s and an M249 SAW with paratrooper stock, on deployment alongside other US Army forces. Image via Reddit (source)

    1. Doctrine

    The RRC has the purpose of providing worldwide reconnaissance in addition to operation preparation of the 75th Ranger Regiment, as well as tactical roles. (Source

    Rangers on their own are much more geared towards direct action than conventional forces, and the Regimental Reconnaissance Company furthers this doctrine by being an adaptable and dedicated intelligence unit. By using their variety of skills in HUMINT, SIGINIT, IMINT, ELINT and COMINT, they can more effectively inform Ranger assault elements. (Source)

    2. History of the Regimental Reconnaissance Company

    Though the history of Rangers dates back to Revolutionary times, the history of the RRC itself is briefer.  Originally known as the Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment (RRD), its linage is as old as the rest of the Regiment. However, in 2007 the Ranger Regiment officially activated its Special Troops Battalion (STB). With the creation of the STB, the RRD became the Regimental Reconnaissance Company. One company within a battalion of highly specialized special operations soldiers.

    The RRC was tasked primarily with intelligence procurement in preparation as well as support operations. (Source)

    Since its inception it has grown in both size and purpose. The unit has become an integral component of the Ranger’s overall force organization, and has seen continuous and increased use since its creation.

    2.1. JSOC Integration

    There is some misunderstanding of the relationship between Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the 75th Ranger Regiment as well as the RRC. JSOC is not the RRC’s parent command. There are a multitude of special mission units that fall under the command of JSOC at any given time. The Combat Applications Group aka CAG, aka Delta Force often falls under the command of JSOC. However, they share US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) as a parent command with the Regiment. Same with Naval Special Warfare commanding DEVGRU and Airforce Special Operations Command running the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. JSOC functions as a joint force command that integrates special operations forces (SOF) from various branches of the military as well as international. There can often be complications between units with their differing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). JSOC acts as a bridge between these units and as the final authority between them.

    When the Regiment stood up their Special Troops Battalion, the Regimental Reconnaissance Detachments were pulled from the battalions and into their own company. The reorganization of the RRD into a singular company allowed for JSOC to pull them for recon missions rather than an entire battalion. As a result, the RRC’s op tempo within JSOC significantly increased. The 75th Ranger Regiment has had a long history within JSOC but the RRC’s restructure allowed for the unit to be utilized by JSOC as a separate, highly specialized recon element.

    3. Organisation

    The RRD initially composed of a single unit that worked with the Regimental Commander and unit Intelligence Officers. Since then, it has expanded to three primary teams and a command element. (Source

    In the 1990s each of the three recon teams was assigned to one of the three Ranger battalions. The teams were comprised of six men, harkening back to their lineage of Long Range Recon Patrol/ Long Range Surveillance (LRRP/LRS) teams in Vietnam. The headquarters elements for the teams were comprised of a commanding officer, a first sergeant, two communications sergeant, an operations sergeant, and a training sergeant. These recon team help to fill any intelligence gaps and complete sensitive intelligence tasks in preparation for and during active deployment. (Source)

    3.1. Force Breakdown

    • Platoon (Entire RRC is platoon-sized/ 30-40 men estimated size): (Source) (Source) (Source)
    • Recon Squad 1 (Six men total):
    • 1 Sergeant First Class or Staff Sergeant (Squad HQ)
    • 4-5 Operators composed of Army Specialists (E-4) or Sergeant (E-5) minimum rank or above.

    • Recon Squad 2 (Six men total):
    • 1 Sergeant First Class or Staff Sergeant (Squad HQ)
    • 4-5 Operators composed of Army Specialists (E-4) or Sergeant (E-5) minimum rank or above.

    • Recon Squad 3 (Six men total):
    • 1 Sergeant First Class or Staff Sergeant (Squad HQ)
    • 4-5 Operators composed of Army Specialists (E-4) or Sergeant (E-5) minimum rank or above.

    • HQ Element (Six men total):
    • 1 Commander (O-3)
    • 1 NCOIC (E-7 or above)
    • 2 Communication Officers (25A or equivalent)
    • 1 Training NCO (FTO, E-8 or equivalent)
    • 1 Operations Officer (Likely O-3 or lower)

    4. Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP)

    4.1. Intelligence Methods

    The Regimental Reconnaissance Company tactics reflect their abilities as intelligence specialists. There are different intelligence fields that the RRC work within, most notably including HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, ELINT and COMINT. (Source)

    HUMINT involves the collecting, interpretation and reporting of intelligence gathered in the field via human contacts. By operating ahead of other conventional forces, the RRC gathers HUMINT which can then be fed back to the Rangers.

    4.2. Intercepting, Interpreting, Informing

    SIGINT, ELINT, and COMINT all fall into an intersection of collection, interception and interpretation. Members of the Regimental Reconnaissance Company use various equipment and techniques to monitor enemy communications as well as devices to collect intelligence. (Source) Consequently, they can perform intercepts across many different channels and mediums, allowing them to provide other military elements with not only current enemy activity, but even potential intention. 

    4.3. Selection

    Selection of the RRC members, as expected, begins with becoming a Ranger. (Source) Rangers may apply to the RRC as well as other schools of specialisation. 

    The RRC selection criteria allows only the most qualified and effective candidates into their limited ranks.

    Regimental Reconnaissance Company
    A member of the RRC conducts a freefall alongside critical equipment. Image via Reddit (Source)

    5. Training

    As every member of the RRC must first be a Ranger, each member will be expected to initially pass through the Rangers Assessment and Selection (RASP), which is composed of two phases. 

    Phase 1 involves physical and psychological conditioning, including long marches, land navigation exercises, triage testing, as well as psychological evaluation. In Phase 2, the Ranger skillset is expanded with new combat skills. These include combat skills, airfield seizure, personnel recovery, in addition to explosives and long-ranged combat. (Source)

    The US Army Ranger physical requirements include the ability to do 53 push-ups, 63 sit-ups, two mile run in 14:30 or less, four pull-ups as well as a six mile ruck march with a 35 pound ruck. (Source) Additional exercises to expect including full uniform swim tests in addition to a five mile run in under 40 minutes. 

    5.1. The Silent Elite

    Rangers begin the process of joining the RRC with a slew of tests as well as assessments. Under the supervision of the Ranger Training Battalion, Rangers are tested to their absolute limits. 

    Among the known aspects of the training regiment are traveling through undeveloped wilderness on land navigation courses. RRC members can geo-locate and then physically seek out various objectives in the mountainous region of their training grounds. (Source

    Physical tests of the RRC include full kit movement in mountainous terrain as well as long marches, all designed to condition recruits to the conditions of forward reconnaissance. Recruits are surprised often by false test conclusions, where assessors make recruits think testing has ended, only to start new tests moments after one concludes. (Source

    6. Equipment of the Regimental Reconnaissance Company

    6.1. Weapons

    The RRC utilizes many of the same weapons that the US Army Rangers do, having a wide range of weapons that let them handle many different combat situations. The weapons of the RRC include hardware that was and likely still is used by active members. (Source) (Source

    Assault Rifles:

    • M4A1 – SOPMOD Block 1 and 2
    • Mk18 Mod 1 and 2
    • FN SCAR L / Mk16
    • FN SCAR H / Mk17

    Shotguns

    • Mossberg Model 590

    Sidearms

    • M9 Beretta
    • Glock 19

    Machine Guns

    • M2 Heavy Machine Gun
    • M240
    • M249 SAW
    • Mk 46
    • Mk 48

    Sniper Rifles/ DMRs

    • HK 417
    • M110 SASS
    • McMillan TAC-338
    • Mk 14 Mod 0 EBR
    • RAI Model 300/500
    • Remington M24 SWS
    • Remington M40
    • Remington M2010
    • Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle

    Anti-Armor/ Anti-Vehicle Weapons

    • Ranger Anti Tank Weapons System (RAWS)
    • Javelin Missile Launcher.
    • FIM-92 Stinger Missile Launcher
    • Barrett M107 Anti-Material Rifle.
    • Carl Gustav M4 Recoilless Rifle
    • M203 Underbarrel Grenade Launcher
    • M320 Grenade Launcher
    • Mk 47 Striker AGL
    • M224 60mm Mortar System
    • M136 Anti Armor Weapon (AT4)
    Members of the Regimental Reconnaissance Company with an array of weapons on deployment. Image via Reddit (Source)

    6.2. Field Devices

    Beyond its weapons, there are an array of devices that the Regimental Reconnaissance Company uses to fulfill its intelligence roles in the field. Most notable of these devices is the range of sensors as well as array systems that the RRC uses to gather comprehensive and full spectrum field intelligence. 

    These sensors, built by a number of different companies, give the RRC intelligence gathering capabilities via ground and air sensors, seismic-acoustic sensors, infrared sensors, magnetic sensors as well as various visual sensors. (Source) Additionally, they also have various tools that grant them interception capabilities for high, very high and ultra high radio frequencies. Finally, they possess different types of deployable sensor arrays that let RRC members construct small field camps that can quickly collect information from the surrounding area. 

    This information is collected through these different types of field equipment, and then “…demodulated, decoded, displayed and recorded to provide a time-phased record of enemy activity” (Source)

    7. Notable Operations of the Regimental Reconnaissance Company

    The RRC at times deploys more closely with primary Army Ranger battalions, instead of being completely independent. Consequently, many of the operations that the Rangers participate in can likely be considered Regimental Reconnaissance Company deployments as well. At the same time, however, there are a few notable operations that the RRC have conducted that are worth mentioning

    7.1. Drop Zones Shiloh and Wrath 

    The RRC deployed into Afghanistan in 2001 to secure airfields in addition to gaining operational intelligence. Their goals were more specifically to secure an area deemed viable for future air operations, create the conditions for a functional airfield and hold said positions. Consequently, they would conduct a number of situational intelligence gathering operations, to make sure the area was completely secure. (Source

    In order to secure these airfields, the RRC deployed to the areas via combat freefall parachute drops, into drop zones named Shiloh and Wrath.

    RRC
    An RRC member in full free-fall kit. Image via Reddit (Source)

    7.2. Drop Zone Tillman 

    The RRC also deployed for tactical preparation missions in Afghanistan, alongside their operational prep missions. They deployed to the Drop Zone Tillman, but instead of setting up an airfield they deployed alongside emplaced tactical equipment. This equipment would provid6e other US forces the ability to have a strong point before their arrival and gain a tactical advantage. (Source

    7.3. Hindu Kush Mountains

    In 2006, alongside a JSOC Task Force that was operating on a locate and capture mission of insurgent leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Regimental Reconnaissance Company (at the time the RRD) was deployed. Their strike team did not participate in nearly as much direct combat as other Ranger elements, however it did provide an extremely key tactical role. 

    When the task force came into contact with what it thought were Haqqani’s escorts, heavy combat was joined with insurgent forces. A very large number of insurgents engaged the Ranger forces, but were relieved when the JTAC component of their RRC attachment called in aerial fire support, devastating the opposing forces with high casualties. The engagement did not however result in Haqqanis death or capture. (Source)

    8. Regimental Reconnaissance Company Summary

    The RRC is one of the many highly specialized components of the US military, serving the elite of the elite of the US Army, the Rangers. As a result of their rigorous training, discrete nature and ability to fulfill the essential role of support and intelligence operations, they are a lethal foe and invaluable ally. 

    The totality of their operations in a fully contemporary sense is not fully known, nor will it likely ever be, however it can be assumed that wherever one finds US Army Rangers on the ground, the Regimental Reconnaissance Company is not far away. 

    Samuel Longstreth
    Samuel Longstreth
    Samuel is a King's College graduate with an MA in War Studies. His areas of focus are extremism in the Western world, military privatization and the impact of climate change on global security.

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