Shortly after the end of the war, the Rangers underwent another transformation when in 1947 they were re-designated the 25thArmoured Regiment of the Canadian Reserve Army. Now equipped with Sherman tanks, the unit began to train for a new mission in the event of another major conflict. In the years of the Cold War, which saw Canadians in combat on the Korean Peninsula as well as an uneasy peace along Europe’s Iron Curtain, deployment overseas remained a distinct possibility. Starting in the 1950s, the persistent threat of a nuclear strike also led to preparations for new duties in National Survival on the home front.
Yet a further change came in 1965, when the Regiment was tasked for light armour reconnaissance, its current duty. On the understanding that more appropriate vehicles would be supplied should “the balloon go up,” Rangers now traded their tanks for jeeps and began to hone their skills in long-range patrolling. In a way, this new function marked a full circle back to the days when Robert Rogers led his men in the Champlain Valley. Of course, the nature of the fighting had changed, as had the enemy. The Rangers now prepared for their place in NATO to help parry a potential assault in Central Europe by the formidable army of “Fantasia,” an unspecified foe whose weapons and tactics bore a remarkable resemblance to those of the Soviet Union.
The 1960s were challenging times. Not only had the federal government’s disinterest in defence returned with a vengeance, but hostility to America’s Vietnam War translated into a climate of public distaste for the armed forces in Canada as well. By the early 1970s it became increasingly difficult to convince young men – and now women – to submit to the rigors of military discipline. Fortunately, the Rangers enjoyed a renaissance when it recruited Michael Stevenson, a Sandhurst graduate who had immigrated to Canada after service with the Green Howards in a number of postings around the world. Soon the Regiment’s CO, Stevenson reinvigorated training and morale, and set about recruiting officers of high calibre from among university students.
The Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989 and two years later the “Evil Empire” was no more. But if the Cold War is now over, the world is not without its perils. They may be more diffuse than the Warsaw Pact’s armoured divisions and nuclear missiles, but are no less demanding of vigilance. Proud of their long heritage, today’s Rangers serve Canada wherever its military may be called to duty, from Cyprus and Bosnia to Namibia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. Two hundred and fifty years of history are not enough; the Rangers will be there for more.