After reading the Dec. 22 article about Ranger School and [how a leader being Ranger-qualified is] the best life insurance policy a person can have (“Is combat experience making Ranger School unnecessary?”), I had to comment because, having served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm as a dismounted squad leader in an infantry company and two tours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I think that qualifies me to speak on what’s best for my life.

The modern-day military war we are fighting does have a certain place for Ranger-qualified soldiers, but the role has shrunk compared to the infantry soldier who is on the front line of the battle straight from basic training. The concentration is not there anymore for Rangers and to say that Rangers are better leaders than anyone else is nonsense.

I spent 14 years in infantry companies from 1987 to 2003 all over the country, side by side with Ranger-tabbed soldiers, and they did nothing out of the ordinary when it came to performing the tasks I performed in the same leadership position. In fact, a lot of them just bragged about how they made it through 72 days of “sucking” but learned more from either the Infantry Leaders Course or homestation training back at their unit.

It bothers me that these noncommissioned officers are sending a message to the soldiers on the battlefield that those soldiers are lacking leadership because Ranger-qualified soldiers are not in most leadership positions. I’m not sure about them, but this tells me and the soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan that they are doing a hell of a job without them and that the leadership that mentored them did a hell of a job as well!

Soon the Army will move away from having Ranger-qualified soldiers in most leadership positions and begin recognizing the infantry soldiers who have stood the test of multiple deployments as well as homestation training. We cannot afford to have soldiers thinking they are not good enough to fight and be an infantry soldier unless they are Ranger-qualified. Just because a soldier is not a Ranger doesn’t mean he can’t lead a squad, rappel, swim, force march, climb rope or run a six-minute mile.

So to all who think [as Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Smith, who heads Fort Benning’s Ranger Training Brigade, said in the article, that] “[t]he best life insurance policy that a person can have ... is his leader being Ranger-qualified,” I say: No, thanks. Remember Somalia?

Capt. Lance J. Sibley

Fort Bliss, Texas

Don’t reward name-calling

Regarding the Dec. 28 letter “Will ‘don’t ask’ backers stay?”: Is there any real reason to allow someone, anyone, the opportunity to engage in hateful name-calling simply because he disagrees with others’ views? I thought the point of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was a manifestation of what equal rights for all was all about.

The letter writer should take a long look in a mirror before pogo-sticking around Kaiserslautern, Germany, shouting “neener neener on the homophobes.” Shame on Stars and Stripes for printing such drivel.

Michael Brotherton


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