- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425247589
- ISBN-13: 978-0425247587
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger Hardcover – July 3, 2012
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“For 250 years, Rangers have stepped forward to take on the toughest and most dangerous missions to defend America. Dick Couch has done us all a favor by taking us inside the way in which we select and train our contemporary Rangers. I read this book swelling with admiration for the young men who volunteer to serve in the Ranger Regiment. They deserve our heartfelt thanks for their service, just as Dick Couch deserves our thanks for Sua Sponte and this engaging 'insiders’ account.”-- Dr. Andrew Exum, author of This Man's Army
"An outstanding read for anyone considering the very challenging physical and mental rigors and high standards required to be part of this elite 'Brotherhood.'"-- Tim Abell, Actor/Producer and 2/75 Ranger
"Sua Sponte is a detailed and vivid look at how the Army Rangers train for war. Couch’s nuts-and-bolts narrative is well-told with the perspective of an experienced special operator. He knows what he’s looking at and reports it faithfully. It is informative and at times moving. Readers will learn what it takes to be an elite soldier, and how much work it takes to earn the title ‘Ranger.’" -- Larry Bond, author of Exit Plan
About the Author
A 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Dick Couch served with the Navy Underwater Demolition and SEAL Teams. He led one of the only successful POW rescue operations of the Vietnam War, while a platoon leader with SEAL Team One in 1970.
On release from active duty in 1972, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as a Maritime Operations Officer. He retired from the Naval Reserve in 1997 with the rank of captain. The author of numerous books and articles on military special operations, he serves as a consultant and keynote speaker on issues of tactical ethics and moral battlefield conduct. Dick and his wife Julia live in Idaho.
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Top Customer Reviews
The only complaint I have about the book was the lack of editing. I want to mark up every error in the book and send it back to the publisher. The first 100 pages are rife with so many factual errors that they distract from the fine content of the book. It's not anything big that would make you think Couch made anything up, they are a large number of simple errors like saying that Darby did not live to see D-Day, when he was in fact in Washington with the War Department and didn't die until 1945 (perhaps the meaning was Darby wasn't in Europe to see D-Day?), and that the British were defeating Francis Marion in South Carolina in 1881.
I don't want to discredit the book, I really enjoyed it, I just hope the second printing shows more attention to detail befitting the Rangers. Mr. Couch, if you need a better editor, I would be happy to work for you!
First, allow me to address what Sua Sponte is not. It is not a discussion, or even description, of what the 75th Ranger Regiment is doing in the war on terrorism. It is not a biography of an Army unit that has been incredibly busy over the last 11 years. This operational tempo is touched on, but never fully explored. There is no discussion of the night raids that make up such a large part of the war in Afghanistan now, and in which the Regiment plays a huge part. There is no mention of the Ranger QRF that accompanied NAVSPECWARDEVGRU into Pakistan to accomplish the hit on UBL. Pat Tillman, the most famous Ranger of this current period of warfare is not mentioned at all. General Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of 3rd Ranger Battalion and the whole Regiment, does not make the pages. In the same way that his previous books such as "The Sheriff of Ramadi" avoid the mention of anything controversial or outside a very straight-line narrative, this one sticks to its guns.
Sua Sponte does a phenomenal job of explaining how Ranger Assessment and Selection Program works. There is some wave top covering of the Fort Benning, GA basic training program, along with jump school, and the army's infantry training program. Then it goes into RASP and its two components. Eventually there is some mention of Ranger School, and it is clear that he has interviewed senior leadership of both the 75th Ranger Regiment as well as the Ranger Training Brigade from the knowledge woven into the book. But do not go into this expecting to learn something existential about the Rangers, the training, or the way of life. This book toes the company line.
It is probably valuable to compare Sua Sponte to "Making The Corps" by Thomas Ricks. Both describe an entry level training program, but Ricks has no buy-in to the community. Sua Sponte is a book makes clear where the flaws in the program are (the Ranger swimming test is administered early, and eliminates most minorities from the training pipeline, as an example), but does not offer any discussion of these issues, or offer solutions to any policy makers or interested readers. Everybody interviewed is motivated, inspired, and a shining example of a great American warrior. At one point one of the RASP Cadre admonishes the others to "pressure on, profanity down, and keep it impersonal." That's this book, in a nutshell.
A reader who is not familiar at all with military training will come away impressed by what young Rangers do, and how much they work to earn the right to wear the tan berets, something that nobody should diminish. But the story is impersonal, clearly stilted, and not told at a personal, skin-to-skin level. The conversations are stilted, the responses clearly either canned, or not given freely to a retired O6 officer. The story moves on to a Ranger battalion and company preparing for deployment, which involves plenty of time in the field, plenty of shooting, plenty of the things that make young men want to join up. Even here the story fails to excite, as it is simply a telling of the occurrence without passion. It is clear that Mr. Couch is impressed by his young observants, but also that he understands that his is how special operations works. Hard work, continuously executed, creates hard core fighters. He is just not able to bridge the gap. There is discussion of a Ranger company after it returns, and you will find nuggets throughout on how hard the war is on Ranger families, those that make the ultimate sacrifice, and brief paragraphs about the families left behind when these men go to war.
In the end, this book tells the story of how a modern Ranger is forged, as it says on the cover. It does not tell the story of the 75th Ranger Regiment at war, a story in desperate need of telling. Couch has access, both through his previous writings, his title as a Navy Captain, and as a member of the Special Operations Tribe. He understands classified material and how to handle secrets. I think this frequently makes him to cautious, and his stories are too cheerleader like. If you are looking for a book that tells you how to make a Ranger, this is it. If you are looking for a warm look at america's elite light infantry in home port, this is it. If you want a discussion of an elite raiding force in modern warfare, this is not it.
"Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger" by Dick Couch is an excellent and lively tribute to the modern Rangers of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. I severed in the Regiment prior 9/11 and moved onto other Special Operations units. I can tell you what I learned in the Rangers set the foundation of my special operations background. This book clearly sets the record straight on what it takes to be in the Regiment and what life is like in the unit. If you ever wanted to really know about this unit this book is for you. The author briefly covers the ranger history and then delves into the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP), which was Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) back in the day. I can tell you from when I served in the 75th they have fine-tuned the selection process down to fine science with almost eleven years of straight combat under their belt.
RASP is designed to weed out those who do not truly have the physical or mental capabilities to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment. The training curriculum was specifically designed to "smoke" the trainees through endless punishment via constant physical training. In the second week of RASP, the class is sent to "Cole Range" a remote training area of Fort Benning. It is designed to test the individual to their breaking point both physically and mentally; trainees sleep on average 4 hours total throughout Cole Range as they spend their nights doing tedious tasks such as the "hitting the wood line" for being incapable of meeting the given time hacks. Although training such as patrolling and land navigation is taught at Cole Range, the main focus is to mentally and physically break down the individual. For classes held in the winter; it is not uncommon for 20%-40% of the starting class to quit during the first night of Cole Range. The remainder of the training familiarizes the trainees with the regimental weapon systems and first aid procedures known as Ranger First Responder (RFR), explosive breaching, air assault operations, close quarters battle and a host of other skill-sets.
Also, as mentioned in other reviews the book has some historical errors and a couple of minor typos. However, I feel these errors do not distract from the book and will only be viewed as a glaring error to readers with extensive military historical knowledge. However one thing that bothers me is that the book has no contents page, not sure if it was a print error or it was purposely omitted. Overall, The book is an enjoyable read and nicely formatted. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to journey into the ranks of the Rangers and to the casual reader looking to shed some light on their understanding of this elite unit. RLTW!
1. Ranger History
2. Recruiting for the Regiment
3. Ranger Assessment and Selection Level One, Phase One
4. Ranger Assessment and Selection Level One, Phase Two
5. RASP, SURT, and the School
6. The Ranger Battalion
-Epilogue: The Way Ahead
-Post Epilogue: A Look Back
-A Personal Note From The Author
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He covers the history of the Regiment well as well as the first 2 training events.Read more