News: 'Not for the weak or fainthearted' 'Ready First' soldiers compete for Ranger slots
Story by Staff Sgt. Joseph Wilbanks
EL PASO, Texas - Seventy-four soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Ready First", 1st Armored Division, competed for a chance to attend the U.S. Army Ranger School in the "Ready First" Ranger Assessment Program, May 3-5.
The RAP is a mimic of the first three days of Ranger School that includes a Ranger Physical Fitness Test, three-mile buddy run, land navigation, obstacle course, 15-mile road march and water survival test.
Day one of the RAP opened with the RPFT. The RPFT differs from the normal physical fitness test in that all soldiers are graded on the 17-21 year old scale, the two-mile run is increased to a five-mile run and each soldier is required to perform a minimum of six pull-ups.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis L. Smith, Ranger Training Brigade command sergeant major, was in attendance for the RPFT and spoke to the participants later that morning.
The main benefit of Ranger School is that soldiers are dubbed leaders just by walking through the gates, said Smith. The course teaches you necessary traits to become a better leader, he added.
Smith also laid out what the soldiers could expect at Ranger School. Sixty-one days of hard training, little food and minimal sleep all designed to mold soldiers into quality leaders that can be relied upon in and out of combat.
The candidates had the rest of the day off to prepare for the land navigation course beginning at four a.m. the following morning. The objective of the course was to find four out of five points in four hours. The course was designed to mimic the star pattern used at Ranger School.
There was no rest for the tired participants after the land navigation course. The soldiers were transported to the next challenge, the three-mile buddy run. This run had to be completed in Army Combat Uniform, boots and load-carrying equipment, which weighed about five-pounds in less than 30 minutes. The soldiers also had to finish the run within arms-length of their randomly assigned Ranger buddy.
After the grueling run, all that stood between these soldiers and a much-deserved rest was the obstacle course. But with the sun high in the sky and the temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, the obstacle course would be a very tough challenge for these soldiers.
The soldiers were required to run the outer ring of obstacles and then move to the inner ring of obstacles. These obstacles included the inverted wall, the weaver, the low crawl, the monkey bars, the rope climb and the obstacle course standard, the "tough one", which requires a soldier to climb a rope, climb an A-frame ladder and climb down a cargo net.
After completing all of the obstacles, the candidates were required to sprint back to the start point to receive their over-all time. This time would help decide who was at the top of the Order of Merit List to receive a Ranger School slot.
The third and final day of the RAP was the 15.5-mile road march and Combat Water Survival Test.
The road march was a group event in which the soldiers had to complete the course carrying a 40-pound rucksack. The soldiers were eliminated if they fell too far behind the group.
The CWST was the final event of the RAP. Each candidate had to jump or be pushed into a swimming pool wearing LBE and carrying a weapon. The soldiers then had to take off all their equipment and swim 15 meters.
After the three-day event, 45 of the 74 soldiers who started passed all events of the RAP. This was a major improvement over the RAP ran just six months before in November.
Of the near 100 soldiers that competed in November, only 12 passed, said Sgt. Maj. Wayne Phillips, operations sergeant major for the 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, "Blackhawks", 1/1 AD. Of the 12 that passed, only two made it all the way through and received their Ranger Tab, he added.
"Ready First" hopes to run a RAP every quarter, said Phillips. Every unit in the Army could benefit from more Ranger Tabbed leaders and this program helps prepare for the school, he said.
"Becoming a Ranger won't make you better than anybody else, but it will make you better than you are now," said Phillips.
This work, 'Not for the weak or fainthearted' 'Ready First' soldiers compete for Ranger slots, by SFC Joseph Wilbanks, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.