And others you can’t
I recently was talking to a few old friends who had either been members of the Ranger Battalions of the 75th Ranger Regiment, or attended Ranger School as a member of the Special Operations community and we got into a discussion about the ways Ranger students can be prepared for the rigors of the Ranger course and others that they can’t.
We’ve been in contact with some of the potential Rangers who are in the pipeline and hopefully they can find this useful as they embark on their career with some of the best light infantry troops in the world.
To a man, the vets from the Ranger Regiment made it clear that any student coming from the Ranger Battalion to Ranger School is extremely well prepared for anything that comes their way. The Battalions won’t send any Ranger student that isn’t ready.
They did point out, however, that some of the tactics that the Battalions are using now in the GWOT differ slightly from how the patrols are graded in Ranger School. And that may be a post for another time as perhaps the school may be in line for some modifications if Rangers are actually conducting patrols a bit differently now.
So what are the biggest areas that a Ranger student should be well-versed in on Day 1.
Troop Leading Procedures:
Every Ranger student must become intimately familiar with understanding Troop Leading Procedures and the issuing of Warning Orders and Operations Orders (OPORD), as well as Fragmentary Orders (FRAGO).
There are eight steps in the Troop Leading Procedures (TLP) guide that Army leaders and Rangers are expected to know.
Step 1. Receive the Mission
Step 2. Issue a warning order
Step 3. Make a tentative plan
Step 4. Start necessary movement
Step 5. Reconnoiter
Step 6. Complete the plan
Step 7. Issue the complete order
Step 8. Supervise
The Ranger will receive the mission in the form of an OPORD or a FRAGO and will issue a Warning Order as quickly as possible given the information that he has at the time. He’ll analyze quickly the mission using METT (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops, and Time) and begin his plan.
They’ll make a tentative plan, reconnoiter if time allows, complete his plan, issue the OPORD and then supervise his unit thru the mission completion. The leader will conduct rehearsals, inspections and cover several tasks which include:
Actions on the objective.
Assaulting a trench, bunker, or building.
Actions at the assault position.
Breaching obstacles (mine and wire).
Using special weapons or demolitions.
Actions on unexpected enemy contact.
Small Unit Tactics:
The bread and butter for Ranger school. The Ranger Instructors (RIs) will teach the students everything they’ll need to know and take it from the absolute bottom, the duties and responsibilities of a basic rifleman right up to planning operations that involve airborne operations or small boat insertions.
However, since the Ranger student will be tired, hungry and under stress, it is always advisable that the student be intimately familiar with all of these and make things as stress-free as possible.
Know the Ranger handbook especially the chapters 1-2 as well as 6-7-8. Which deals with movement, operations, patrols, and battle drills.
Rucking, Rucking, and More Rucking:
The big pain pill becomes an even bigger issue for some students who aren’t used to carrying it all the time. That issue will be fixed and quickly in Ranger School. While there won’t be the constant ruck PT of the SFQC or the many gates of ruck marches in Selection, Rangers will carry their ruck everywhere.
During each of the phases, (Benning, Mountain, Desert, Eglin) the students will have an approximate 10-12 day field phase with non-stop patrols ongoing in each. Students will be wearing a rucksack from 15-18 hours a day minimum, some days it could be as long as 20.
It is just one of the other added stressors that are built-in to the course. If students are not used to carrying a ruck before they get there….it won’t be a pleasant experience. And it isn’t even for well-versed troops.
PT Standards… Believe it or Not:
What? Nope, that isn’t a typo. Many of the students who fail out of or are pushed back in Ranger School never get passed the PT Test. The Rangers call it the Ranger Physical Assessment (RAP) and it consists of the normal Army 3-Event PT Test with pull-ups as well as a five-mile run in 40 minutes or less instead of the standard 2-miler included.
Believe it or not, more people fail the RAP than anything else. How can someone go to attend Ranger School and not pass the standards to even enter? It is a head scratcher but students should have no doubt as to what constitutes a proper push-up and pull-ups that have to be completed from a dead hang.
Also included in the RAP is a land navigation test that isn’t close to what you’ll encounter at SFAS but for students who aren’t well versed in it, it takes its share of failures nonetheless. Once again, preparation is the cure for all of it.
Two things that the Ranger students can’t prepare for per se are the sleep deprivation and hunger.
We’ve all heard the countless stories of students sleepwalking and falling asleep standing up and losing contact during patrol movement because a Ranger student has “zoned out” during the course…they’re all true. Well, 99 percent are.
Students are guaranteed to have no more than four hours of sleep a night in Ranger School and when those students are being graded as a Patrol Leader, he will frequently get none.
There is no way to actually prepare for it, although if you’d had practice in this before, you can and should use small tricks of the trade that you’ve learned to help you through it. But there is zero preparation factor here.
The other tales we’ve all heard about Ranger School is the hunger. Each Ranger student gets two MREs a day to eat and together they add up to about 2500 calories per day. If taken into context at home on a “normal” day, it would be more than enough.
However, in Ranger School operating on little to no sleep carrying a heavy rucksack for 15 to 20 hours a day, it is far too little. It is common for Ranger students to lose 15-20 pounds by the end of the course at graduation.
One of our guys who attended Ranger School from the unit we’d send motivational letters with hamburger wrappers from McDonald’s. He told us later, it broke up the tension and he would get a big laugh from it, but he also added, he still licked the wrapper to see if there was any flavor left in there.
Hopefully, for the young troops heading to Ranger training/Ranger Regiment, you’ll find these tips to be useful. It is a tremendous small leader’s course, among the very best in the world.