Published on July 11th, 2012 | by Jack Murphy28
Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger
I just finished Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger, by Dick Couch. Whether you are a former Ranger, an aspiring Ranger, or a Ranger’s family member, this is the book for you.
It started off slow for me as Mr. Couch covered the history of Rangers in an abbreviated yet thorough review, which for me was all very familiar material. For anyone who is a non-Ranger, it is a good primer on Ranger history and some really great American figures, such as Dan Morgan and Francis Marion.
He covered the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) in a very thorough manner, yet was vague where he needed to be. I think the non-Ranger reader will get an unprecedented look at what RASP 1 is like, and the Ranger reader will chuckle to himself while thinking “I know what REALLY happened here…”
Mr. Couch was obviously a keen observer and shed an interesting light on the backgrounds of both the candidates and the cadre. One of the most interesting parts for me was his break down of the demographic of the class he was following, followed by the demographic of those who actually graduated.
For anyone who is an aspiring Ranger…this is a must read. I would have killed for an opportunity to read a book like this before I went through the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) back in 2006.
I noticed he was particularly vague in his description of Cole Range, which I guess one could say is the 75th’s version of “Hell Week” or “Team Week”. He did do a great job of describing the main events that take place, and that’s all the reader really needs to know.
The prospective Ranger out there should just realize that his experience at Cole Range may or may not be the same as the next guys, but it will more than likely by the hardest four days you have had up to that point in your military career.
The reader should note that every RASP class is different, it is an ever-evolving course that changes to meet the needs of the Regiment, so don’t take the training events described as gospel, but rather focus on the principles taught and the personality type the Regiment is looking for, as that likely won’t change.
The only dry part of this section of the book for me was the in depth descriptions of things that are common place training exercises to all Rangers, but these descriptions will probably be very interesting for the non-SOF readers.
The RASP 2 section was very interesting for me, as I have never really known outside of generalities what goes on in this version of RASP. He had to be vague in some areas to protect the course, especially in reference to the board process and their version of Cole Range. I have a pretty good idea of how the course is run now, which I hadn’t prior to reading the book.
He also covers Small Unit Ranger Tactics (SURT) and Ranger School, and that section was brief but not really the focus of the book. Again, for the non-Ranger I am sure it will be very interesting.
Mr. Couch then embeds with a few different companies in 1/75 and shadows them through their training cycle. He did a great job of capturing “the essence” of a Ranger training cycle. I say “the essence” because he had to leave a lot of details out, but that won’t be immediately apparent to the reader unless you come from a SOF background.
He mainly focused on the major training that takes place, and does a good job of describing it as well as explaining the purpose of the training. He shed a very positive light on the men who make up the Regiment, giving some great background information on some of the NCO’s and Officers that he observed.
Overall it was a great read, whether you are a Ranger or not. I would say it is a “must read” for any aspiring Ranger. I have to say it feels good to read something like this; it seems “our story” has finally been told. So many misconceptions fly around about the 75th and this clears a lot of them up.
He does a good job of explaining what we do: Killing or capturing the most dangerous enemy on the battlefield. It is my opinion that the typical Ranger strike force package is the most professional, lethal, and effective direct action raid force in the SOF arsenal, and Mr. Couch does a good job of showing that. He also gives a good sales pitch for the Regiment at the end, but I don’t think it is anything the Rangers will complain about!
I will personally be recommending this book to my family so that they can better understand the life of a Ranger, and the sacrifices they make.
A guest book review by 75th Ranger Regiment veteran, Erik Larson.
(This post originally appeared on SOFREP.com)