An elite group of special operations soldiers wrapped up two weeks of training at Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Liggett last week, providing a boon to the bases located near the county’s northern border.
“We have a fabulous facility here, and the Army has invested a lot of money in it the last few years,” said Susan Clizbe, a spokeswoman for Fort Hunter Liggett. “So the more people we can get here to train, the better payoff it is on the investment.”
The soldiers came from the 75th Ranger Regiment, 2nd Battalion, based out of McChord, Wash. During their training, the rangers tested their combat skills in an environment similar to that which they might find during combat missions. Hunter Liggett, an Army base, is just north of the San Luis Obispo County line in the Big Sur area. Camp Roberts, a California National Guard base, is about five miles away in northern San Luis Obispo County and southern Monterey County.
Also training with the rangers were units from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, from Fort Campbell, Ky., and Air Force Special Operations Command from Hurlburt Field, Fla.
“It was a real field test of how they all worked together,” Clizbe said.
Before the training, neighbors were warned of possible noise and traffic closures. Helicopter missions, mortar fire and grenades were used during the training.
The bases provide good training ground, Clizbe said, because of the hilly terrain, good weather and abundance of land.
“We have lots of maneuver area,” she said. “We have 165,000 acres, so they can set up pretty much any scenario they want to. And because we have so much land, they can do the live fire.”
Susanne Thomas, a spokesperson for Camp Roberts, was not available Friday.
The training marked the first time the rangers have trained locally, Clizbe said.
“It’s a good thing for our area because the rangers get a lot of attention,” she said. “If you search ‘75th ranger regiment,’ you’re going to get ‘Fort Hunter Liggett’ all over the Internet, and that’s exactly what we need for marketing purposes.”
At Hunter Liggett alone, there are 350 employees, she said.
“It supports the jobs here,” Clizbe said of the ranger training. “It makes sure that these installations stay open.”
During the two weeks of training, which wrapped up Wednesday, the Army’s chief of staff, Ray Odierno, visited and spoke to the rangers. In a post on his Facebook page, Odierno – the most senior uniformed officer in the Army – lauded the rangers, saying they were “one of our Army’s most lethal, agile and flexible force(s).”
The rangers are typically among the most battle-tested soldiers, a fact that was brought to the forefront when ranger Kristoffer Domeij died during his 14th combat mission in 2011.
Rangers, in some form, have existed in America since before the Revolution. Billed as the military’s foremost raid force, they specialize in rapid deployment. Well-known rangers have included singer and actor Kris Kristofferson, former NFL player Pat Tillman and generals Colin Powell, David Petraeus, Wesley Clark and Stanley McChrystal.
Clizbe said the training proved to be a success.
“We expect that they will be back,” she said.