Lessons from War Scouts: The 28 Standing Orders of the Army Rangers

Peace Scouts helping out a War Scout

When Baden-Powell founded Scouting over 100 years ago, he modeled much of it after the branch of military Scouting that he helped develop in the British Army. However, when he wrote Scouting for Boys, he was careful to point out that Scouting was by no means a military or paramilitary organization. The aims of Scouting were different from military Scouting.

He made this distinction by describing the difference between ‘war Scouts’ and ‘peace Scouts’. War Scouts had the job of protecting and defending the military and country during war-time by using stealth to gather needed information; and, if necessary, use force in combat. Peace Scouts took a lot of the admirable characteristics of War Scouts and used them to a different purpose. The task of Peace Scouts is to protect and contribute to their Nation and Community, not by force or combat, but by actively improving themselves and actively contributing to and volunteering for the community.

English: Army Rangers from the 1s Battalion, 7...
Army Rangers performing a training exercise

As Peace Scouts, there is still much we can learn from War Scouts. To start with, the qualities of Courage and Loyalty that they must posses to do what they do. Some of the real-life War Scouts in America today are the 75th Ranger Regiment, commonly known as the Army Rangers.

The Army Rangers have a history that predates the Revolutionary War, and today, they are actively assigned to such missions as airborne, air assault, and direct action operations, raids, infiltration and exfiltration by air, recovery of personnel and special equipment, and support of general purpose forces.

The Rangers have a series of standing orders that they must always follow and abide by. These rules were originally drafted during the French and Indian War. From the perspective of a Scout, I find this list of rules very interesting, and wanted to share them with you. Besides lessons in Character, this list may also give you the advantage in any airsoft tournaments. Here they are [This list is copied from this Wikipedia article]:

  1. All Rangers are subject to the rules of war.
  2. In a small group, march in single file with enough space between so that one shot can’t pass through one man and kill a second.
  3. Marching over soft ground should be done abreast, making tracking difficult. At night, keep half your force awake while half sleeps.
  4. Before reaching your destination, send one or two men forward to scout the area and avoid traps.
  5. If prisoners are taken, keep them separate and question them individually.
  6. Marching in groups of three or four hundred should be done in three separate columns, within support distance, with a point and rear guard.
  7. When attacked, fall or squat down to receive fire and rise to deliver. Keep your flanks as strong as the enemy’s flanking force, and if retreat is necessary, maintain the retreat fire drill.
  8. When chasing an enemy, keep your flanks strong, and prevent them from gaining high ground where they could turn and fight.
  9. When retreating, the rank facing the enemy must fire and retreat through the second rank, thus causing the enemy to advance into constant fire.
  10. If the enemy is far superior, the whole squad must disperse and meet again at a designated location. This scatters the pursuit and allows for organized resistance.
  11. If attacked from the rear, the ranks reverse order, so the rear rank now becomes the front. If attacked from the flank, the opposite flank now serves as the rear rank.
  12. If a rally is used after a retreat, make it on the high ground to slow the enemy advance.
  13. When laying in ambuscade, wait for the enemy to get close enough that your fire will be doubly frightening, and after firing, the enemy can be rushed with hatchets.
  14. At a campsite, the sentries should be posted at a distance to protect the camp without revealing its location. Each sentry will consist of 6 men with two constantly awake at a time.
  15. The entire detachment should be awake before dawn each morning as this is the usual time of enemy attack.
  16. Upon discovering a superior enemy in the morning, you should wait until dark to attack, thus hiding your lack of numbers and using the night to aid your retreat.
  17. Before leaving a camp, send out small parties to see if you have been observed during the night.
  18. When stopping for water, place proper guards around the spot making sure the pathway you used is covered to avoid surprise from a following party.
  19. Avoid using regular river fords as these are often watched by the enemy.
  20. Avoid passing lakes too close to the edge, as the enemy could trap you against the water’s edge.
  21. If an enemy is following your rear, circle back and attack him along the same path.
  22. When returning from a scout, use a different path as the enemy may have seen you leave and will wait for your return to attack when you’re tired.
  23. When following an enemy force, try not to use their path, but rather plan to cut them off and ambush them at a narrow place or when they least expect it.
  24. When traveling by water, leave at night to avoid detection.
  25. In rowing in a chain of boats, the one in front should keep contact with the one directly astern of it. This way they can help each other and the boats will not become lost in the night.
  26. One man in each boat will be assigned to watch the shore for fires or movement.
  27. If you are preparing an ambuscade near a river or lake, leave a force on the opposite side of the water so the enemy’s flight will lead them into your detachment.
  28. When locating an enemy party of undetermined strength, send out a small scouting party to watch them. It may take all day to decide on your attack or withdrawal, so signs and countersigns should be established to determine your friends in the dark.
  29. If you are attacked in rough or flat ground, it is best to scatter as if in rout. At a pre-picked place you can turn, allowing the enemy to close. Fire closely, then counterattack with hatchets. Flankers could then attack the enemy and rout him in return.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post. What else do you think us Peace Scouts can learn from War Scouts? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment, and, if you enjoyed it, share this article with your friends.

Scout On!

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