Arkansas senator is challenged on his claims of being Army ranger

Cotton attended a two-month-long ranger school and was not in the Ranger Regiment

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has compiled an impressive resume over the years. He spent his early years on a small-town Arkansas cattle farm, and those humble beginnings miraculously led to Harvard University and then Harvard Law School.

After working at a leading New York firm, he decided to join the military, and was discharged after nearly eight years and two war-zone deployments as an Army captain and decorated hero — including two commendation medals, a Bronze Star and a Ranger tab.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) questions President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee at the U.S. Capitol on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

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According to Salon, in his first run for Congress in 2012, Cotton said he was “a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and, in a campaign ad, he said he “volunteered to be an Army Ranger.” Cotton was technically never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Actually, Cotton attended a two-month-long ranger school, which was a small-unit tactical infantry course. Soldiers who complete the course earn the right to wear the Ranger tab — a small arch that reads “Ranger” — but the military does not acknowledge them as actual Army Rangers.

Cotton also told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record in February 2012: “My experience as a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and my experience in business will put me in very good condition.” A Cotton campaign ad placed in the Madison County Record in May 2012 identifies Cotton as a “Battle-Tested Leader” who “Volunteered to be an Army Ranger.”

A representative for Cotton said that the implications that Cotton lied are untrue and people who graduated from Ranger school are justified in calling themselves Rangers.

“To be clear, as he’s stated many times, Senator Cotton graduated from Ranger School, earned the Ranger Tab, and served a combat tour with the 101st Airborne, not the 75th Ranger Regiment,” Cotton’s spokesperson said in a statement provided to theGrio.

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The Ranger Regiment is considered the Army’s top action unit, and over the course of the so-called War on Terror, Rangers have killed or captured more high-value targets than any other unit. Salon reports that the regiment comprises four battalions, and members wear distinctive tan berets as well as a red, white and black Ranger “Scroll,” a cloth badge that is distinctly different from the black-and-gold tab that Cotton earned at Ranger School.

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