Space Force officer earns Ranger Tab — a first for a guardian
Stars and Stripes October 16, 2023
Space Force Capt. Daniel Reynolds tackled a new frontier where no guardian has gone before when he recently completed the Army’s grueling Ranger School course.
Reynolds graduated Oct. 13 from the weekslong combat leadership course and earned the coveted Ranger Tab, a first for the fledgling military service, Space Force officials said Monday. A photo shared on social media by the Ranger School showed Reynolds posing with other guardians, a Space Force flag and his new Ranger Tab after graduating from the course last week at Fort Moore, Ga.
Reynolds, a satellite communications test director stationed at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, has become a pioneer in the Space Force. In 2021, just months after transferring from the Air Force to Space Force, Reynolds became the first guardian to graduate from the Army’s Air Assault School. Last year, the captain completed the Army’s Sapper Leader Course, becoming the first guardian to earn a Sapper Tab, according to the Defense Department. Reynolds has also completed the Army’s Airborne course.
Reynolds, 29, was commissioned into the Air Force in 2017 after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s in astronautical engineering, according to the service. He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a second lieutenant and earned a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics while working in a fellowship with NASA, according to the Air Force.
In an interview with the Air Force before attending Ranger School, Reynolds said the combat-focused Army schools have helped him improve in his day-to-day job of developing satellite communications tools for service members, including front-line fighters.
“One of the biggest challenges that I think I’ve faced in my work [in the Space Force] is we design a system that doesn’t meet the intent of the warfighter, and that comes from a lack of communication and a lack of understanding,” Reynolds said in the interview published Aug. 30. “At courses like this, we take individuals who are working in space, and we get them together with individuals who are the tip of the spear, executing these missions, engaging the enemy face-to-face. That’s where we learn how to design better systems and capabilities.”
The Space Force, which was created in 2019, is responsible for developing and defending most of the U.S. military’s space-based infrastructure and programs, which includes communications satellites that ensure American troops on the front line can communicate among themselves and with higher headquarters. Reynolds’ job is to test the latest technologies in tactical satellite communications, according to the Air Force.
Reynolds is the first guardian to complete Ranger School, and the Army’s course is open to all the military services and some members of partner nation militaries, according to the Army. About 350 airmen have earned a Ranger Tab since 1955, according to the Air Force.
The Army bills Ranger School as its chief and most difficult combat leadership course. The school spans three locations — Fort Moore, Camp Merrill in the mountains of north Georgia and in the swamps of Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base. Service officials have said historically less than half of those who begin Ranger School complete the course.
Sending airmen and guardians to Ranger school is important no matter what their day job might be because it allows them to develop leadership in extremely difficult situations that troops could find in combat, according to Air Force Capt. Daniel Mack, a Ranger Assessment Course instructor for those services. Troops face sleep and food deprivation, difficult weather conditions and different environments through the 62-day course.
“Anyone can lead in good conditions, but can you lead when you are hungry, tired, and fatigued?” Mack said in an Air Force release in August. “Additionally, can you get others to perform when they are in the same conditions? Completing the course or not, airmen and guardians go back to the Air Force and Space Force as better leaders.”