Military


Camp Frank D. Merrill
Mountain Ranger Camp
Mosby Army Heliport
Dahlonega, Georgia

Camp Frank D. Merrill is the home of the 5th Ranger Training Battalion and the mountain phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School, where small unit leaders are instructed in combat techniques and procedures used to move swiftly over all types of terrain including mountains. One-eighth of the earth's surface is covered by mountains and almost every war which has been fought since the start of recorded history has included some type of mountain operations.

In the pre-dawn hours of D-Day as Omaha Beach quietly awaited the fury of the allied invasion, the 2nd Ranger Battalion assaulted the cliffs of Normandy at Point Du Hoc to clear the way for the invasion force. Battling rain soaked rocks, rough seas, and intense German fire, the American Rangers scaled 100 foot cliffs, secured their objective and stood on European soil before the amphibious assault began.

Future conflicts involving American soldiers could very well be conducted in mountainous terrain. Whether in Europe or Latin America we will see rough terrain. The training Ranger students receive at Camp Merrill and the surrounding North Georgia Mountains will enable them to successfully operate in any mountainous environment.

The 5th Ranger Training Battalion mission is to train small unit leaders on mountaineering skills. Further develop their combat leadership and functional skills by requiring them to perform individual and collective tasks in a tactically realistic mountainous environment, under mental and physical conditions, approaching those found in combat.

Mosby Army Heliport is located approximately twelve nautical miles northwest of Dahlonega, Georgia. Geographic locations and dimensions of landing areas dictate that pilots accomplish adequate performance planning and apply mountain flying techniques. Cold refueling capability is normally available at Mosby AHP. Hangar facilities are not available at Mosby AHP. All landings and takeoffs to/from Mosby AHP will be made to the north wind permitting. Avoid over flight of Camp Merrill and the town of Dahlonega below 500' AGL.

The Mountain phase, the second of three Ranger training phases, is designed to enhance the soldiers ability to plan and execute small unit combat missions in mountainous terrain. This phase covers mountaineering skills, small unit tactics, patrol infiltration and exfiltration, raids, ambushes, and other skills required for close combat and direct fire missions.

During the Mountain Phase, students receive instruction on military mountaineering tasks as well as techniques for employing a squad and platoon for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment. They further develop their ability to command and control a platoon size patrol through planning, preparing , and executing a variety of combat patrol missions. The Ranger student continues to learn how to sustain himself and his subordinates in the adverse conditions of the mountains. The rugged terrain, severe weather, hunger, mental and physical fatigue, and the emotional stress that the student encounters afford him the opportunity to gauge his own capabilities and limitations as well as that of his "Ranger Buddies". In addition to combat patrol operations, the Ranger student receives five days of training on military mountaineering.

During the first three days of mountaineering (Lower) he learns about knots, belays, anchor points, rope management and the basic fundamentals of climbing and rappelling. His mountaineering training culminates with a two day exercise (Upper) at Yonah Mountain applying the skills learned during Lower Mountaineering. Each student must make all prescribed climbs to include a 200-foot night rappel at Yonah Mountain to continue in the Course. During the two FTXs, Ranger students also perform patrol missions requiring the use of their mountaineering skills.

Combat patrol missions are directed against a conventionally equipped threat force in a low intensity conflict scenario. These patrol missions are conducted both day and night over a four day squad field training exercise (FTX) and a platoon five day FTX that includes moving cross country over mountains, conducting vehicle ambushes, raiding communications/mortar sites, and conducting a river crossing or scaling a steep sloped mountain. The Ranger student reaches his objective in several ways: Cross-country movement, air assaults into small landing zones on the sides of mountains or an 8-10 mile foot march over the Tennessee Valley Divide (TVD). The stamina and commitment of the Ranger student is stressed to the maximum. At any time, he may be selected to lead tired, hungry, physically expended students to accomplish yet another combat patrol mission.

At the conclusion of the Mountain Phase, the students move by bus or parachute assault into the Third and final (Florida) Phase of Ranger training, conducted at Camp Rudder, near Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The Ranger Camp and the Ranger personnel and their families are an integral part of Lumpkin County. Porter village, a military housing area lies just West of the city of Dahlonega sharing many of the cultural aspects of the surrounding area. The Ranger community regularly participates in events within the community as well as sponsoring fund raising events for local charities.

The first Ranger class started training on January 3rd, 1951. The Ranger instructors from 2nd Ranger Company and students from Ranger Class 1 conducted eleven days of training in North Georgia; 9 days of patrolling and 2 days of rappelling at Woody Gap. Of the 150 students that started, 47 successfully finished the course.

The first cadre jump was conducted in September, 1952 from a C-119 "Flying Boxcar" onto an open pasture where the little league field is located in Dahlonega.

From January to November 1952, cadre and students used the facilities at Pine Valley, a North Georgia College recreation area. On November 5th, 1952 the Mountain Ranger Camp began moving to Camp Weshega, which was leased from the state 4-H Club 9 months out of the year. Between 1959 and 1960, the Mountain Ranger Camp moved to it's present home in the Black Farms area. The students were billeted in tents until hutments were built in 1961. Construction began in 1987 on a consolidated open bay student barracks, modern cadre barracks, a gymnasium, and a remodeled Troop Medical Clinic.

The Mountain Ranger Camp was officially designated Camp Frank D. Merrill in honor of Major General Frank D. Merrill, Commander of Merrill's Marauders during Burma operations of World War II. On October 1, 1988, the 2nd Ranger Company was officially reorganized and redesignated the 5th Ranger Training Battalion.

The camp also hosts and assists the training of other military units, civilian government agencies, and youth groups. Each year numerous military and civilian organizations utilize the camp and surrounding area to conduct training. Facilities include the lower mountaineering area; a 25 meter firing range; and class room facilities.

 



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