Make ‘Rules of Ranging’ Your Rules for Business: Part 3

August 15, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019


In 1757, in the middle of the French and Indian War, Maj. Robert Rogers composed a list of 28 rules intended to serve as operational guidelines for his legendary and groundbreaking light infantry force, the original special operations unit known as “Rogers’ Rangers.”

These “Rules of Ranging” were a hybrid combination of Native American combat techniques and his own blend of guerrilla warfare, revolutionary in their own time and still a foundational element in special operations units such as the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.

This list of combat-proven knowledge isn’t just applicable to the battlefield. In Part 3 of this series, we’ll continue to explore how you can adapt these strategies in your professional daily life.

Rule 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.’

“Don’t just stand there, do something!” is a common phrase heard when things go sideways and the forces of chaos are rising all around you.

Most people have at least heard of the concept of a “fight or flight” response to stress; many experts also speak of a third reaction, “freeze.” I’ve seen this theory play out multiple times in a wide range of scenarios and situations: Gunfire erupts and people either scatter or remain frozen in shock. Thankfully, there are those heroes who don’t do either, but rather spring into action.

In the military, we refer to this as “Battle Drill 2, Reacting to Contact.” Your first step is to immediately seek cover and return fire. It’s important to note that it isn’t return fire and seek cover. This differentiation matters; it’s the space that stands between the quick and the dead.

When a crisis (or crises) break out, you have to be ready to take initial actions without having to go through the complete decision-making process. This really is the main skill that makes combat soldiers effective—rehearsal of battle drills until they can execute them as easily as any other natural reflex.

Reacting to survive in a crisis situation has no time for democracy, whether it’s in combat or in the office. You have to prepare yourself and your team to respond to the worst-case scenario while things are calm and ordered, so they know what to do when “it” hits the fan.

In his first work, “The Jewish War,” first-century historian Flavius Josephus writes of soldiers training to fight for the realities of war: “Their exercises are unbloody battles, and their battles bloody exercises.” It’s not a coincidence that even 2,000 ago, these warriors understood the importance of training and drilling upon the fundamentals until they became second nature to them. Elite performers are elite because they have mastered the basics.

Rule 8: ‘When chasing an enemy, keep your flanks strong, and prevent them from gaining high ground where they could turn and fight.’

In Part 2 of this series, we talked about why it’s never wise to allow your competition or opposition the time and space required to collaborate against you. It really is true that the best defense is a strong offense. Always be prepared for your competitors or opposition to successfully execute the most dangerous course of action. Being complacent in your superiority or historical performance is the surest way to find yourself discarded and confused in the ash heap of history.

It’s also not enough to prepare for these types of scenarios from a purely intellectual or academic perspective. The mind-body connection is a very real thing. If you want to be ready to deal with stressful situations in a high-intensity environment, you need to be at your peak in both mind and body.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been proven to boost both physical and mental performance, which is a vital combination for those who routinely engage in activities that challenge the mind.

According to some experts, physically exercising just once a week can yield improvement in health and cognitive abilities; a steady routine can eliminate the risks of a sedentary lifestyle almost completely. Strong of mind, strong of body. Embrace the concept of the “whole man.”

Rule 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.

In the U.S. Army, a phrase so overused that it’s basically become a meme is, “We don’t ever retreat; we tactically advance away from the enemy.”

While this is a mildly amusing form of double-speak, it’s an important distinction to make. If you find yourself in the situation that your team needs to tactically withdraw from a situation, the best course of action is never to “tuck tail and run.” You must figure out the best way to withdraw and maneuver to a more advantageous and secure position.

Make your opponent’s conquest cost them dearly in both time and money as you ensure that your organization is able to cut its losses and “post up” in a position that’s actually stronger for the future.

In other words, make them pay dearly for every inch of ground that you allow them to gain. The only way to truly do this is by making sure you have contingency plans in place, based on the most likely and most dangerous courses of action those who have a vested interest in seeing you fail might take.

You want your tactical withdrawals to be carefully planned and calmly executed; if you try to do this while in a panic mindset, it will not work out well.

Above all, ignore the advice of famous scam artists such as Napoleon Hill. Anyone who can tell you with a straight face: “Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by doing so can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win, essential to success,” is someone who has never risked anything, nor experienced any actual true success.

Don’t let the fear of sunk costs be the final nail in your team’s coffin.

Chris Erickson is a combat veteran and former Green Beret, with extensive experience deployed to various locations across the world. He now works in the communications industry. You can follow him on Twitter @EricksonPrime.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.