News: 7th ID conducts Ranger School assessment
Story by Sgt. Zachary Gardner
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – It only takes a set of orders and a completed packing list to attend Army Ranger School, but it takes mental strength, physical endurance and leadership excellence to pass it.
To help prepare soldiers for the demands of Ranger School, the 7th Infantry Division hosted a Ranger School assessment July 8-10. Only the most promising candidates from this selection will move on to the school.
The point of this assessment is to give Soldiers an idea of what to expect at Ranger School, explained Sgt. 1st Class Kristopher Barnette, a Blacksburg S.C. native, and Ranger-qualified Soldier who helped evaluate the candidates.
The assessment is not a program designed to teach Soldiers how to become Rangers. It serves as a refresher course on basic military skills and allowed Soldiers to refine their craft in areas where they might be weak. The assessment featured a land navigation course, combat water survival assessment, 12-mile road march and a confidence course. Soldiers also had to pass a more comprehensive physical fitness test than is normally required by the Army to show that they have the physical strength required at Ranger School.
“The biggest thing I tell Soldiers is that you don’t go to Ranger School to learn how to conduct a raid,” said Barnette. “You don’t go to Ranger School to learn how to conduct an ambush. You don’t go to Ranger School to learn how to do an operations order. You go to Ranger School to learn how to be a leader and how to get your Soldiers to accomplish what you need them to do in a messed up situation. That’s why you go to Ranger School.”
The most difficult portion of the Ranger School assessment wasn’t the late nights or the physical demands, but the land navigation course.
“The most challenging part of the division Ranger School assessment is the land navigation course,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel LeGeer, a Fontana Calif. native, and the Ranger operations noncommissioned officer for the 7th Infantry Division. “Land navigation is a perishable skill in which most Soldiers and leaders don’t take the time to refresh and prepare on the basic fundamentals of orienteering, such as plotting points, determining distance, determining direction, and route planning.”
After more than a decade at war, the Army has started to transition back into garrison life. For Soldiers, this means more competition for promotions. Attending Ranger School and other military training will help Soldiers succeed in this changing environment.
“Pretty soon you’re going to see a lot of guys that don’t have a deployment patch or a Combat Infantryman Badge, so it’s this type of training that is going to set people apart,” said Pfc. Brett Conover, a Mission Viejo, Calif. native, and a recent Ranger School graduate who helped conduct the assessment.
Like other professionals, military jobs require certifications. Doctors have their boards, lawyers have the bar, and the Army’s elite Soldiers go to Ranger School.
“Once you go through the Army’s Ranger School, you’ll learn so much about yourself,” said Barnette. “You’ll learn so much about how to lead Soldiers. It’s not that people who don’t attend the school are not great leaders, it’s just that Rangers are great leaders.”