Tab or Scroll: Inside the contentious debate over who’s an Army Ranger (2023)

There is no quicker way to stir up controversy among current and former service members, especially Army veterans, than to point to someone with a “Ranger tab” on their uniform and call them an Army Ranger.

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information after publication to reflect that the U.S. Army does not have an official policy on who is officially considered a U.S. Army Ranger. Our follow up to this story can be read here.)

In military circles, this is nothing new and comes up frequently, often where you least expect it, like when the producer’s behind ABC’s The Bachelorette mistakenly published a bio saying one of their contestants was a former Army Ranger.

Well, the debate over who can officially call themselves a Ranger is again back in the news, and this time it’s not on reality television.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is under fire for purportedly misrepresenting his military service after Salon published a profile that took a close look at his credentials as a “battle-tested leader,” something he campaigned on. In addition to raising a few eyebrows about the decision to prominently highlight his award of a Bronze Star Medal (without a “V” device) as part of his combat-creds, the recent article zeroed in on Cotton’s claims that he served as a Ranger.

The story generated immediate and widespread push-back from current and former service members, and even from one of Cotton’s peers, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), who served in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment.

I’m glad to see Cotton get called out for this finally.

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Ranger-qualified ≠ Ranger.

Cotton graduated Ranger school, so he’s allowed to wear the tab, but he never served in a Ranger battalion, and he never earned his beret.

— Angry Staffer 🌻 (@Angry_Staffer) January 23, 2021

The debate around Cotton’s “Ranger” status — like so many of these controversies — hinges on the fact that while he graduated Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., which is often called being “Ranger tabbed” or “Ranger qualified,” he did not serve in the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, a special operations unit that falls under the purview of the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command.

Serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment is often referred to as being “Ranger scrolled,” a reference to the unit patch worn by members of the regiment.

And so, it’s with this recent news in mind, and with an eye toward future controversies, innocent missteps, errors by way of omission, or flagrant embellishments and outright lies that we here at Task & Purpose decided to reach out to the folks at U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the 75th Ranger Regiment to ask them to settle this for us once and for all.

They did, by the way.

When is someone officially considered an Army Ranger?

Ah yes, the part you’ve all been waiting for. Well, here it is: Currently, you need to have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment to be considered a Ranger, which means you must complete the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP), which is different from Ranger School.

“Attending the U.S. Army Ranger Course, which falls under U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, makes an individual Ranger qualified,” Tracy A. Bailey, the deputy public affairs officer for 75th Ranger Regiment, told Task & Purpose. “Volunteering and successfully passing the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1 or 2 makes you a U.S. Army Ranger.”

According to Bailey, RASP 1 is an 8-week course that trains privates through sergeants “in the basic skills and tactics required to operate in the 75th Ranger Regiment.”

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After completing the course, those soldiers “will have the advanced skills, training, and confidence to be a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, capable of conducting operations as a member of a Ranger strike force or command element,” Bailey said.

Tab or Scroll: Inside the contentious debate over who’s an Army Ranger (1)

The second assessment, RASP 2, is a21-day course for staff sergeants and above and all officers volunteering to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“This course assesses the suitability of mid-and senior grade leaders for assignment to the Regiment and teaches them the operational techniques and standards of the Ranger Regiment,” Bailey said. “This course provides training in the special tactics, equipment, and missions that make the Regiment unique. Upon successful completion of this course, applicants will be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment.”

Once a soldier has successfully completed RASP 1 or 2 “he or she has then earned the right to bear the scroll and wear the tan beret,” Bailey said.

However, following publication of this story Task & Purpose received a response from Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs stating that the service did not officially have a policy on who is, or is not, considered a Ranger:

“There is no official U.S. Army policy regarding the use of the term ‘Ranger,’” Lt. Col. Gabriel J. Ramirez, a spokesman with Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, told Task & Purpose. “The designation ‘Ranger’ has been associated with Soldiers who either graduated from Ranger School or are assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment.”

Now, let’s discuss the difference between being “tabbed” and “scrolled.”

After a service member has successfully made their way through the 62-day U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, “they have the right to wear the Ranger tab on their uniform(s),” Bailey said.

While it has “Ranger” in the name, Ranger School is a leadership course that is open “to all members of the military, regardless of whether they have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment or completed RASP,” Bailey added.

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Tab or Scroll: Inside the contentious debate over who’s an Army Ranger (2)

It’s worth noting that while graduating from Ranger School does not make you a Ranger, members of the 75th Ranger Regiment — who are already Rangers — will eventually have the opportunity to attend Ranger School.

“All infantry, field artillery, and Armor military occupational specialties in the ranks of E-6 and above and all officers must have a Ranger tab to apply for RASP 2,” Bailey said. “All other officers do not need a Ranger tab to apply. However, upon completion of RASP 2, at some point during their time at Regiment, those without a Ranger tab will be sent to the U.S. Army Ranger Course and expected to successfully complete the school.”

Alternatively, “one who has served or is currently serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment is considered ‘scrolled,'” Bailey said.

And there you have it: Graduating Ranger school makes you “Ranger qualified” or “Ranger tabbed” and passing RASP and serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment makes you “scrolled.”

How did the debate over who gets to be called a Ranger start?

Now, it’s worth noting that this confusion didn’t always exist, especially during World War II, and in the years immediately after its end, explained Mike Krivdo, the deputy command historian at U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

“The creation of a central Ranger School on Sept. 15, 1950, at Fort Benning had a lot to do with changing the discussion of when an individual became a ‘fully trained’ Ranger,” Krivdo told Task & Purpose.

During World War II, Rangers were trained and qualified as units, Krivdo explained. However, as combat took its toll, replacements who were sent to the units were often trained up by the senior guys prior to going into combat.

“Very little distinction was made between those taught collectively vice those who joined the unit later in the war,” Krivdo said. “There were always plenty of combat actions for them to prove themselves to their peers.”

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This began to change during the Korean War, though not all at once. Initially, the training of Rangers went on much as it had in the previous war, with whole units of Rangers going through training collectively, either at the newly created Fort Benning Ranger Training Center or at one of two Ranger Training Centers in Korea or Japan, with the occasional replacement getting schooled up by more experienced members of the unit.

But this all changed dramatically on Oct. 1, 1951 when the Army deactivated its Ranger Infantry Companies (Airborne) in response to the static nature of combat along what would eventually become the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea, which didn’t require a maneuverable raiding force.

“The Army nonetheless decided to keep the Ranger Training Center to teach those valuable skills,” Kvrido said.

And on Oct. 10, 1951, the Ranger Training Center transitioned to the Ranger Training Command in order to train individual soldiers — in lieu of whole units — in raiding and reconnaissance so that they could serve as elite infantrymen and bring those skills back to their units so that hardwon knowledge wouldn’t be forgotten.

“Sometime soon after the distinction of having passed the school became the defining mark, as there were — with the exception of some short-lived company units during Vietnam — no Ranger units,” Krivdo said.

And then it changed once more, paving the way to our current situation and the confusion at hand.

With the activation of the 1st Ranger Battalion, on July 1, 1974 at Fort Stewart, Ga., the debate over who gets to call themselves a Ranger began to emerge.

“Members of that unit had to wrestle with the issue of ‘fully qualified,’” Krivdo said.

Though there was now an official Ranger Battalion, there were likely hundreds if not thousands of other soldiers across the Army who had been trained individually in those same skills, or had served in Ranger companies during the Vietnam War, and were considered fully qualified Rangers in their own right.

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“The Ranger School could never provide the throughput to get everyone school trained, particularly when the Rangers grew from one battalion to two, and then to a whole Regiment with three line battalions. With not enough throughput from the school to ensure every member of the unit was school-trained, the focus became ensuring that at least all the leaders met that threshold.”

In conclusion: Having a Ranger tab ≠ a Ranger, at least according to the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“To put all of this another way, the Ranger tab means you graduated a U.S. Army leadership school,” Bailey told Task & Purpose. “Earning the 75th Ranger Regiment scroll is a way of life.”

Update: This article has been updated with a statement from the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, stating that the service does not have an official policy regarding who is, or is not, considered a U.S. Army Ranger. Our follow up to this story can be read here.


Is a Ranger a tab or scroll? ›

Successful completion of Ranger School earns one a “tab,” but a “scroll” is earned by securing an assignment to the Regiment. That's why you'll sometimes hear people talk about “tabbed Rangers” versus “scrolled Rangers.”

What is an Army Ranger tab? ›

The Ranger Tab is a qualification tab authorized upon completion of the U.S. Army's Ranger School by a member of the U.S. military, civilian personnel, or non-U.S. military personnel. The Ranger Tab was approved by the Chief of Staff, Army, on 30 October 1950.

Can you have Ranger scroll without tab? ›

You can be assigned to the Ranger Regiment after completing RASP, and still never go on to complete Ranger School. That means you can earn your Ranger Tab without serving in the Ranger Regiment, or you can serve in the Ranger Regiment without ever earning the Ranger Tab… Confused yet?

How do I get the Ranger Tab? ›

Specifically, the tab is awarded to any person who earned a Combat Infantry Badge during the war while serving as a member of a Ranger Battalion (1st through 6th), the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and 475th Infantry Regiment, famously nicknamed “Merrill's Marauders.” The tab is also authorized for wear by any ...

How long does it take to get a Ranger Tab? ›

Ranger School – 61 days (Unless you get recycled!)

Think of Ranger School as a rite of passage to really sink your teeth into your career in Special Operations, and the first step in becoming a leader within the Regiment. RASP is where you get your Ranger scroll; Ranger School is where you get your Ranger Tab.

What does a Ranger scroll mean? ›

Serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment is often referred to as being “Ranger scrolled,” a reference to the unit patch worn by members of the regiment.

How many points is the Ranger Tab worth? ›

Ranger Qualification Course = 40-Points.

Do Rangers wear the Special Forces Tab? ›

Soldiers who are awarded the Special Forces Tab are authorized to wear it and the green beret for the remainder of their military careers, even when not serving in a Special Forces command.
Special Forces Tab
Last awardedCurrent
Next (higher)None
Next (lower)Ranger Tab
6 more rows

How many people in the Army have a Ranger Tab? ›

Only about 3 percent of active-duty soldiers in the Army have earned their Ranger tabs. While completing the leadership course lets the two women wear the coveted Ranger black-and-gold tab, it does not let them become members of the Ranger regiment.

Are Army Rangers considered special forces? ›

Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own elite forces in addition to their regular enlisted units. The Army's Special Operations units include the Rangers, the Green Berets and the Night Stalkers. Here's what Army soldiers can expect from a career as a member of one of these special forces units.

What is the pass rate for Ranger RASP? ›

In order to become a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, every candidate must pass the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP). This study examines traits that are predictive of success in RASP. This is a physically and mentally demanding process which, on average, has a pass rate of approximately 35% (A.

How hard is Army Ranger school? ›

Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses for which a Soldier can volunteer. Army Rangers are experts in leading Soldiers on difficult missions - and to do this, they need rigorous training. For more than two months, Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies.

What is the motto of Army Rangers? ›

The motto "Rangers Lead the Way" has proven true for more than 60 years. Since the first group of handpicked volunteers was activated in World War II, Rangers have led the way on more than 50 military campaigns, including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Can a Marine become an Army Ranger? ›

Can a marine be an army ranger? To be an army ranger means that you are serving in one of the army's ranger battalion. For a marine to serve in a ranger battalion is all but impossible given that the unit is comprised of Soldiers and not Marines.

How do Army Rangers greet each other? ›

The United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard use hooyah. The phrase originated with the U.S. Army Rangers and in the early 1980s was considered a trait of Ranger battalions, spreading locally through Fort Lewis, Washington and Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the three Ranger battalions at the time.

What is the Army Ranger pass rate? ›

According to the U.S. Army Ranger School website, the graduation rate in 2021 hovered just north of 50 percent, with most candidates failing out during the Ranger assessment phase.

What is the average age of an Army Ranger? ›

Army Ranger Age Breakdown

Interestingly enough, the average age of army rangers is 20-30 years old, which represents 73% of the population.

Are Army Rangers hard to get into? ›

It is extremely difficult to become an army ranger.

Army rangers must complete over 2 months of intense mental and physical training intended to push each soldier to their limit. Only 49% of all candidates have what it takes to complete the program.

What is an Army scroll? ›

The current legal process for officers to be promoted or put into a rank is called scrolling. The process requires the president to formally nominate and the Senate to confirm promotions for military officers. The same process, which routinely takes...

What does military scroll mean? ›

Scrolling is the process through which a member is legally appointed and accessed into the Air Force Reserve as an officer.

What does scroll mean Army? ›

A scroll is the authorization from Congress to be an officer in the military.

Does a Ranger tab max out promotion points? ›

You can be awarded 40 promotion points for completion of Ranger, Special Forces, or Sapper courses, but you must complete all phases of the courses to earn these points.

How big is a Ranger tab? ›

The ranger qualification tab is for wear on the Army green uniform. It is 2-3/8 inches wide with a black embroidered background and yellow embroidered border and letters. A subdued version with olive drab background and border and black letters is authorized for work uniforms.

How many push ups do Army Rangers do? ›

Army Ranger Fitness and Workouts

These include: 53 push-ups. 63 sit-ups. Two mile run in 14:30 or less.

Are Rangers tougher than Green Berets? ›

While both of these units are highly elite in their own right, the amount of specialized training it takes to be a Ranger is less than what it takes to be a Green Beret.

Are Rangers tougher than Marines? ›

Army Rangers go through much more of an in depth and grueling training process than that of your average Marine, such as SERE, Pathfinder, Air Assault, Airborne, and so forth. In order to join this elite fighting force, you must volunteer for the Rangers and complete airborne training.

What sidearm do Army Rangers carry? ›

The M9 semi-automatic pistol offers a short recoil with single and double action alternatives. The 15-round magazine provides a legitimate backup weapon for soldiers, even special ops. In fact, the M9 is carried by many U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) including Army Rangers.

Are Army Rangers the most elite? ›

The 75th Ranger Regiment is the U.S. Army's premier large-scale special operations force, and it is made up of some of the most elite Soldiers in the world.

Are Rangers like Marines? ›

Army Rangers and Marines are similar positions in the U.S. military, with both requiring an ability to respond to variable special operations missions. These positions are elite fighting forces, and eligibility is limited to those able to endure rigorous, long-term training.

Is an Army Ranger the same as a Navy SEAL? ›

Navy SEALs are the primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command. Army Rangers are graduates of the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger School. The elite airborne light infantry combat formation acts within the Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

How much sleep do you get in RASP? ›

Ranger candidates, on average, only get four hours of sleep. They are “smoked” and yelled at continually for almost the entirety of the week. This is the part of RASP I remember most.

How in shape should I be for RASP? ›

To qualify for entry into RASP, you must perform the following: 53 push-ups. 63 sit-ups. 2 mile run in 14:30 minutes or less.

How fast do you have to run 5 miles in Ranger School? ›

The Ranger Physical Fitness Test consists of a five mile run in 40 minutes or less, at least 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups and a minimum of 6 chin-ups. In order to pass the test the soldier must score at least 70 points in each event.

What is the hardest part of Ranger training? ›

During the 21-day cycle of Benning phase, candidates are tested on their physical stamina and mental resolve. “My biggest lesson was endurance,” said Lufkin-Collier. “The hardest part about Ranger school is that it keeps going. You're always being tested; you're always being assessed.”

Can you quit Ranger School? ›

The hunger and the fatigue they are induced by taking away most of your sleep and then the stress that you feel is self-induced because at Ranger School is a voluntary school. You can quit any time of the day or night.

Do Army Rangers get paid more? ›

The average Army Rangers in the US makes $74,714. Army Rangers make the most in San Francisco, CA at $112,827, averaging total compensation 51% greater than the US average.

Can Rangers have tattoos? ›

There is no limit to the number of tattoos you can have. You can NOT have tattoos on your wrists / hands, neck, or face. The only exception to this is a ring tattoo, one per hand. Sexist, racist, extremist, and indecent tattoos are NOT allowed.

Why do Rangers say Sua sponte? ›

The 75th Ranger Regiment (United States Army Rangers) uses Sua Sponte as their regimental motto, referring to the Rangers' ability to accomplish tasks with little to no prompting and to recognize that a Ranger volunteers three times: for the U.S. Army, Airborne School, and service in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Why do Army Rangers say Hooah? ›

#DYK “Hooah” was originally spelled “Hough?” It's said the expression started as "How d'ye do!” with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in the Second Seminole War. A more current interpretation is Hooah represents an acronym “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.”

Do Rangers always get deployed? ›

The 75th Ranger Regiment was formally stood up on October 3rd, 1984. It has fought in every major conflict since then and has been continuously deployed since October 2001 following that grim September morning in New York City, Washington, D.C., and the fields of Pennsylvania.

Do you get your phone in Ranger School? ›

Pay telephones are available at all three locations where training is conducted, except Camp Darby at Fort Benning, Georgia. Telephone service is available through the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade for emergencies only. The emergency telephone number is (706) 544-6980.

How much do Army Ranger make a year? ›

Average Salary for an Army Ranger

Army Rangers in America make an average salary of $43,087 per year or $21 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $74,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $25,000 per year.

What do Marines call Army guys? ›

Three such words are “gyrenes,” “jarheads,” and “grunts.” Their times of origin and usage differ somewhat, but each has the same role in the Marine Corps culture. They have become a source of pride for all Marines.

What time do Army Rangers wake up? ›

Getting That Morning Wake-Up Call

In military basic training, there's no such thing as sleeping in. You'll get up at 5 a.m. every single day. Waking up in the morning is an adjustment process that's the same for every single basic training class.

Can Army Rangers have hand tattoos? ›

US Army tattoo policy 2022

Specifically, soldiers can now have one tattoo on each hand as long as it doesn't exceed 1 inch in length. They can have one tattoo — no larger than 2 inches — on the back of their neck. One, 1-inch tattoo is also allowed behind each ear.

What percent of the Army is Ranger tabbed? ›

Only about 3 percent of active-duty soldiers in the Army have earned their Ranger tabs. While completing the leadership course lets the two women wear the coveted Ranger black-and-gold tab, it does not let them become members of the Ranger regiment.

Do Rangers wear the Special Forces tab? ›

Soldiers who are awarded the Special Forces Tab are authorized to wear it and the green beret for the remainder of their military careers, even when not serving in a Special Forces command.
Special Forces Tab
Last awardedCurrent
Next (higher)None
Next (lower)Ranger Tab
6 more rows

What type of caster is Ranger? ›

Rangers are a half caster class in 5th edition, gaining limited spellcasting. Their features and spells focus on exploration, survival skills, and tracking foes.

Do you get a Ranger Tab from RASP? ›

Members of a Ranger Battalion go to both, RASP & Ranger School. Rasp will get you a scroll on your arm as a patch and ranger school gets you a ranger tab. (Tab that says ranger) You do Not have to go to one before the other but both must be completed to be apart of a ranger bat.

How old are most Army Rangers? ›

Army Ranger Age Breakdown

Interestingly enough, the average age of army rangers is 20-30 years old, which represents 73% of the population.

How many points is the Ranger tab worth? ›

Ranger Qualification Course = 40-Points.

What race makes the best Ranger? ›

The Best Races For Rangers
  • Aarakocra. A +2 to Dexterity is a good start for a Ranger of any build or party role, and this elusive race also gets a +1 to Wisdom, the Ranger's secondary stat.
  • Bugbear. ...
  • Drow. ...
  • Kenku. ...
  • Human. ...
  • Forest Gnome. ...
  • Halflings. ...
  • Harengon.
Nov 29, 2021

What kind of magic do Rangers use? ›

As rangers are not a spellcasting class, their spellcasting ability is derived directly from their wisdom ability score rather than a spellcasting ability score as it is with wizards, sorcerers, and the like.

Can Rangers have pets? ›

Do rangers get pets? Nope. In 5e the subclass that gets an animal companion is not available in the System Reference Documents that Solasta can pull from. The only Ranger subclass in 5e to get a direct animal companion is the Beast Master, and the Hunter is the only official subclass from 5e in the game.

How heavy is the ruck at RASP? ›

To succeed at RASP, it's important to run, swim, and strength train since you'll need to complete a 15-meter swim in full uniform, a five-mile run in under 40 minutes, and a 12-mile march with a 35-pound ruck.

What is the fail rate of RASP? ›

RASP 1 has a 53% attrition rate. RASP 2 has a 74% attrition rate. SFAS has 64% and 51% attrition rates for enlisted soldiers and officers respectively, whereas SFQC has 35% and 27% attrition rates for the same categories.


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