FORT BENNING, GA. -- Command Sgt. Maj. Courtney S. Mabus of the 6th Military Information Support Battalion (Airborne) Fort Bragg, N.C., graduated the U.S. Army Ranger Course on Friday Aug. 24.
Mabus was one of 169 newly trained Ranger qualified Soldiers to graduate.
At the age of 40, Mabus is one of the oldest and highest ranking Soldiers to ever graduate what is widely considered as one of the toughest school schools in the US Army. So why now, at his age, and with almost 22 years of service, would a command sergeant major attend Ranger School?
"It was unfinished business," said Mabus. "It would have been career regret if I had not had the opportunity to attend. What made me decide to go was watching the seats go unfilled month after month. Looking at the lack of Ranger qualified NCOs [non-commissioned officers] in our career field, the excuse of me being too old or too senior doesn't feel right when we have slots being unfilled. I hoped that if I went, it would serve as an example and motivation to the junior Soldiers to attend as well. If I can do it at 40 years old, they can do it too."
The Ranger course is 62 days long and consists of three grueling and challenging phases designed and developed to give each candidate elite tactical and leader skills. Focusing on patrolling, reconnaissance, ambushing, and raids, candidates are pushed to their limits while enduring physical and psychological stresses often found in combat.
Speaking about his experience while in the Ranger course, Mabus said one of the biggest challenges with all his years of experience was learning how to be a good follower.
"For me as a command sergeant major , it's been a long time since I did basic Soldier tasks,” he said. “It's been a long time since I had gotten to be a Soldier. The Ranger course allowed me to gain respect and admiration by my peers on performance. I had to carry my own weight and not rely on my rank or position. It was challenging from an age perspective keeping up with and motivating Soldiers half my age."
His family, Amber Mabus, his three sons Corey, Noah, and Caleb were in attendance during the graduation.
"You're too old!" saidAmber Mabus, when asked about her initial reaction to her husband wanting to attend Ranger school. "Then I saw how much work he put into getting ready for it.
I don't think that most people truly appreciate the gravity or the difficulty of the course; I know I didn't. Graduation was the apex of an epic journey for Seth and his entire class. We were relieved, proud and ecstatic at the same time!"
In speaking about what his graduation means to him and what he hopes it means to other Psychological Operations Soldiers, Mabus said it motivates more Soldiers and non-commissioned officers to lead from the front.
"I view myself as the primary trainer of the battalion and the standard bearer for the unit,” he said. “That's more than a statement. That's more than saying it. You have to be able to back that up with actions. If I can't do what I'm asking my Soldiers to do, it's impossible for me to lead from the front."