Preparing for Army Ranger School
Ever wanted to put on the Ranger Tab on your Army uniform? As with any of the Special Operations units in the U.S. military, to become a Ranger takes endurance, stamina, intelligence and mental toughness.
The training is broken up into three phases: Fort Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Florida Phase.
The Benning Phase is executed in two parts and lasts for a total of 20 days. As with most Special Operations units, the first phase is very physical.
From the Ranger Training Brigade Webpage:
Fort Benning Phase
"The Initial Phase is conducted in two parts; the first part, Ranger Assessment Phase (RAP), is conducted at Camp Rogers in the Harmony Church area of Fort Benning. This phase consists of a Ranger Physical Fitness Test:
- Requiring 49 push-ups,
- 59 sit-ups,
- An individual 5-mile release run event finished in 40 minutes or less,
- Concluding 6 chin-ups.
Other physical requirements and tests:
- Combat water survival test
- Darby Mile Run event
- 5-mile runs
- Terrain runs with the Malvesti obstacle course
- 12-mile foot march
- Night and day land navigation tests
Advanced physical training assures physical and mental endurance and the stamina required for obtaining basic Ranger characteristics; commitment, confidence and physical and mental toughness. Additionally, the student executes demolitions training and airborne refresher training. Airborne Soldiers will exit from a high performance aircraft and conduct tactical assembly area procedures."
To be competitive in any of these physical tests, the future Ranger students must not strive for the minimum standards above, but must maximize their personal physical effort and strive for the following:
- Pushups - 80-100
- Situps - 80-100
- Chin ups - 15-20
- 2 mile run - under 13:00
However, the most important pre-training exercise to do prior to Ranger school is walking fast in your boots with 50 pounds of weight on your back. You will do this everyday you are at Ranger School. Running at least 5 miles, 3-4 times a week and swimming in uniform 2-3 times a week is recommended as well. Pack on 5-10 pounds of body weight prior to going so you have a little to lose when you are consuming fewer calories a day.
The second part of First Phase has obstacle courses and long ruck marches as a major part of the physical fitness requirements. However, the fundamentals of patrolling and small unit tactics are the focus of this part of the Benning Phase. These graded field exercises include ambush and reconnaissance patrols, close quarters combat, airborne operations, and air assault operations. The Ranger student must then demonstrate his expertise through a series of cadre and student-led tactical patrol operations.
The second phase, or Mountain phase lasts 20 days and nights and teaches students to operate in small units while sustaining themselves and their subordinates in the adverse conditions of the mountains. The rugged terrain, hunger, and sleep deprivation are the biggest causes of emotional stress that students encounter. Students will eat, sleep and operate in these conditions for 3 weeks, usually eating no more than 1-2 MREs a day (Meals Ready to Eat).
The third phase, or Florida phase, teaches small boat operations, ship to shore operations, stream-crossing techniques, and skills needed to survive and operate in a jungle and swamp environment. This phase lasts 16 days and nights and tests the patrolling and leadership techniques of every Ranger.
Ranger School is a grueling school due to the long hours of walking with your gear, sleeping in the field and eating 1-2 meals less a day than normal. Many students lose 20-30 pounds in the 56 day school. But the school teaches the Ranger he can overcome insurmountable challenges while under simulated combat conditions. Ranger school has honed the professional skills and techniques necessary to conduct small unit operations. And of course, he can wear the well deserved Ranger Tab on his shoulder.
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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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