Ranger School
Overview
 
The United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 Ranger School is an intense 61-day combat leadership course oriented towards small-unit tactics. It has been called the "toughest combat course in the world" and "is the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer". The course is conducted in various locations. Training in the Benning Phase occurs in and around Camp Rogers and Camp Darby at Fort Benning
Fort Benning
Fort Benning is a United States Army post located southeast of the city of Columbus in Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties in Georgia and Russell County, Alabama...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. Training at the Mountain Phase is conducted at Camp Merrill, in the remote mountains near Dahlonega
Dahlonega, Georgia
Dahlonega is a city in Lumpkin County, Georgia, United States, and is its county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 5,242....

 Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

.
Encyclopedia
The United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 Ranger School is an intense 61-day combat leadership course oriented towards small-unit tactics. It has been called the "toughest combat course in the world" and "is the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer". The course is conducted in various locations. Training in the Benning Phase occurs in and around Camp Rogers and Camp Darby at Fort Benning
Fort Benning
Fort Benning is a United States Army post located southeast of the city of Columbus in Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties in Georgia and Russell County, Alabama...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. Training at the Mountain Phase is conducted at Camp Merrill, in the remote mountains near Dahlonega
Dahlonega, Georgia
Dahlonega is a city in Lumpkin County, Georgia, United States, and is its county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 5,242....

 Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. The Florida Phase is conducted at various locations near Camp Rudder
Camp Rudder
Camp James E. Rudder is host to the third and final phase of a nine week training course, dubbed the "swamp phase", of the U.S. Army Ranger School...

, Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. The Desert Phase—conducted initially at the White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range is a rocket range of almost in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR includes the and the WSMR Otera Mesa bombing range...

 in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, and later relocated to Dugway Proving Ground
Dugway Proving Ground
Dugway Proving Ground is a US Army facility located approximately 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah in southern Tooele County and just north of Juab County...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 and Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss is a United States Army post in the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. With an area of about , it is the Army's second-largest installation behind the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. It is FORSCOM's largest installation, and has the Army's largest Maneuver Area behind the...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

—was eliminated in 1995. Ranger School is effectively closed to female applicants due to the Combat Exclusion Laws pertaining to assignment to Ranger-coded positions within the Combat Arms of the United States armed forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

.

The United States Army Ranger School is not organizationally affiliated with the 75th Ranger Regiment
75th Ranger Regiment (United States)
The 75th Ranger Regiment , also known as Rangers, is a Special Operations light infantry unit of the United States Army. The Regiment is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia with battalions in Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield and Joint Base Lewis-McChord...

. Ranger School falls under control of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
Established 1 July 1973, the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command is an army command of the United States Army headquartered at Fort Eustis, Virginia. It is charged with overseeing training of Army forces, the development of operational doctrine, and the development and procurement of...

 as a school open to most male members of the United States Army; while the 75th Ranger Regiment is a Special Operations warfighting unit organized under the United States Army Special Operations Command
United States Army Special Operations Command
The United States Army Special Operations Command is the command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Forces...

. The two share a common heritage and subordinate battalions common lineage, and Ranger School is a requirement for all officers and NCOs of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

History

Ranger Training began in September 1950 at Fort Benning Georgia "with the formation and training of 17 Airborne Companies by the Ranger Training Command". The first class graduated from Ranger training in November 1950. The United States Army's Infantry School officially established the Ranger Department in December 1951. Under the Ranger Department, the first Ranger School Class was conducted in January–March 1952, with a graduation date of 1 March 1952. Its duration was 59 days. At the time, Ranger training was voluntary.

In 1966, a panel headed by General Ralph E. Haines Jr. recommended making Ranger training mandatory for all Regular Army officers upon commissioning. "On 16 August 1966, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Harold K. Johnson, directed it so." This policy was implemented in July of 1967. It was rescinded on 21 June 1972 by General William Westmoreland. Once again, Ranger training was voluntary.

In August 1987, the Ranger Department was split from the Infantry School and the Ranger Training Brigade was established.
The Ranger Companies that made up the Ranger Department became the current training units—the 4th, 5th and 6th Ranger Training Battalions.

In 1983, the Desert Phase was added and the length of the Ranger course was extended to 65 days. The duration was again expanded in October 1991 to 68 days, concurrently with the reshuffling of the Desert phase from the last phase to the second. The 7th Ranger Training Battalion was added to administer this phase. The most recent duration change to Ranger School occurred in May 1995, when the Desert Phase was removed from the Ranger course. Ranger School was reduced to its current length—61 days of training, at 19.6 hours of training per day.

The Ranger Assessment Phase, the first five days of Ranger School, was added in the first class of 1992.

Students

Ranger School is open to all Military Occupational Specialties
Military Occupational Specialty
A United States military occupation code, or a Military Occupational Specialty code , is a nine character code used in the United States Army and United States Marines to identify a specific job. In the U.S. Air Force, a system of Air Force Specialty Codes is used...

 (MOSs) in the US Army, although—as of April 2011—an Army combat exclusion zone still limits some from attending. Ranger students come from units in the US Army, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Coast Guard, and from foreign military services. However, the two largest "customers" for Ranger School are the US Army's Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (IBOLC), and the 75th Ranger Regiment. Ranger School slots are highly valued school slots. Competitions and pre-Ranger courses are typically used to determine attendance.

Ranger students' ranks typically range from Private First Class
Private First Class
Private First Class is a military rank held by junior enlisted persons.- Singapore :The rank of Private First Class in the Singapore Armed Forces lies between the ranks of Private and Lance-Corporal . It is usually held by conscript soldiers midway through their national service term...

 to Captain
Captain (OF-2)
The army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery...

, with lieutenants
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 and specialists
Specialist (rank)
Specialist is one of the four junior enlisted ranks in the U.S. Army, just above Private First Class and equivalent in pay grade to Corporal. Unlike Corporals, Specialists are not considered junior non-commissioned officers...

 making up the largest group of students. The average age is 23, and the average class will have 366 students, with 11 classes conducted per year.

Training

Ranger School training has a basic scenario: the flourishing drug and terrorist operations of the enemy forces, the "Aragon Liberation Front," must be stopped. To do so, the Rangers will take the fight to their territory, the rough terrain surrounding Fort Benning, the mountains of northern Georgia, and the swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s and coast of Florida. Ranger students are given a clear mission, but they determine how to best execute it.

The purpose of the course is learning to soldier as a combat leader while enduring the great mental and psychological stresses and physical fatigue of combat; the Ranger Instructors (RIs) create and cultivate such a physical and mental environment. The course primarily comprises field craft instruction; students plan and execute daily patrolling, perform reconnaissance, ambushes, and raids against dispersed targets, followed by stealthy movement to a new patrol base to plan the next mission. Ranger students conduct about 20 hours of training per day, while consuming two or fewer meals daily totaling about 2200 Calories (9,204.8 kJ), with an average of 3.5 hours of sleep a day. Students sleep more before a parachute jump for safety considerations. Ranger students typically wear and carry some 65–90 lb (29.5–40.8 kg) of weapons, equipment, and training ammunition while patrolling more than 200 miles (321.9 km) throughout the course.

Capabilities

Ranger School students will participate in three airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

, and several air assault
Air assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces...

 operations throughout the duration of the course, relying on C-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 cargo planes
Cargo aircraft
A cargo aircraft is a fixed-wing aircraft designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather than passengers. They are usually devoid of passenger amenities, and generally feature one or more large doors for the loading and unloading of cargo...

, as well as UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook
CH-47 Chinook
The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. Its top speed of 170 knots is faster than contemporary utility and attack helicopters of the 1960s...

 helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s, for insertion and extraction. Non-airborne personnel will work drop zone
Drop zone
A drop zone is a place where parachutists or parachuted supplies land. It can be an area targeted for landing by paratroopers, or a base from which recreational parachutists and skydivers take off in aircraft and land under parachutes...

 details while the other students jump. The students also have the ability to call-in and utilize close air support
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 in the form of AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement, and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. The Apache was developed as Model 77 by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the...

 attack helicopter
Attack helicopter
An attack helicopter is a military helicopter with the primary role of an attack aircraft, with the capability of engaging targets on the ground, such as enemy infantry and armored vehicles...

s and AC-130H Spectre
Lockheed AC-130
The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily-armed ground-attack aircraft variant of the C-130 Hercules transport plane. The basic airframe is manufactured by Lockheed, while Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support...

 gunships during many of their missions. All aircraft are provided by other nearby units as part of a training co-operative.

Benning Phase

The first phase of Ranger School is conducted at Camp Rogers and Camp Darby at Fort Benning, Georgia and is conducted by the 4th Ranger Training Battalion. The "Benning Phase" is the "crawl" phase of Ranger School, where students learn the fundamentals of squad-level mission planning. It is "designed to assess a Soldier’s physical stamina, mental toughness, leadership abilities, and establishes the tactical fundamentals required for follow-on phases of Ranger School". In this phase, training is separated into two parts, the Ranger Assessment Phase (RAP) and Squad Combat Operations.

The Ranger Assessment Phase is conducted at Camp Rogers. As of April 2011, it encompases Days 1–3 of training. Historically, it accounts for 60% of students who fail to graduate Ranger School. Events include:
  • Ranger Physical Fitness Test (RPFT) requiring the following minimums:
  • Push-ups: 49 (in 2 minutes, graded strictly for perfect form)
  • Sit-ups: 59 (in 2 minutes)
  • Chin-ups: 6 (performed from a dead hang with no lower body movement)
  • 5 mile individual run in 40 minutes or less over a course with gently rolling terrain
  • Combat Water Survival Test (no longer conducted as of 2010)
  • Combat Water Survival Assessment, conducted at Victory Pond (previously called the Water Confidence Test). This test consists of three events that test the Ranger student's ability to calmly overcome any fear of heights or water. Students must calmly walk across a log suspended thirty-five feet above the pond, then transition to a rope crawl before plunging into the water. Each student must then jump into the pond and ditch their rifle and load-bearing equipment while submerged. Finally, each student climbs a ladder to the top of a seventy foot tower and traverses down to the water on a pulley attached to a suspended cable, subsequently plunging into the pond. All of these tasks must be performed calmly without any type of safety harness. If a student fails to negotiate an obstacle (through fear, hesitation or by not completing it correctly) he is dropped from the course.
  • Combination Night/Day land navigation test - This has proven to be one of the more difficult events for students, as sending units fail to teach land navigation using a map and compass. Students are given a predetermined number of MGRS locations and begin testing approximately two hours prior to dawn. Flashlights, with red lens filters, may only be used for map referencing; the use of flashlight to navigate across terrain will result in an immediate dismissal from the school. Later in the course, Ranger students will be expected to conduct, and navigate, patrols at night without violating light discipline. The land navigation test instills this skill early in each student's mind, thus making the task second nature when graded patrolling begins.
  • A 3-mile terrain run, followed by the Malvesti Field Obstacle Course, featuring the notorious "worm pit": a shallow, muddy, 25-meter obstacle covered by knee-high barbed wire
    Barbed wire
    Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

    . The obstacle must be negotiated—usually several times—on one's back and belly.
  • Demolitions training and airborne refresher training.
  • Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) training was removed as a part of a new POI at the start of 2009; however, it was reinstated with Class 06-10. The Combatives Program now is spread over all phases and culminates with practical application in Florida Phase.
  • A 15-mile forced, tactical ruck march with full gear from Camp Rogers to Camp Darby. This is the last test during RAP and is a pass/fail event. If the Ranger student fails to maintain the pace set by the Ranger Instructors, he is dropped from the course.

The emphasis at Camp Darby is on the instruction in and execution of Squad Combat Operations. The phase includes "fast paced instruction on troop leading procedures, principles of patrolling, demolitions, field craft, and basic battle drills focused towards squad ambush and reconnaissance missions". The Ranger student receives instruction on airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

/air assault
Air assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces...

 operations, demolitions, environmental and "field craft" training, executes the infamous "Darby Queen" obstacle course
Obstacle course
An obstacle course is a series of challenging physical obstacles an individual or team must navigate usually while being timed. Obstacle courses can include running, climbing, jumping, crawling, swimming, and balancing elements with the aim of testing speed and endurance. Sometimes a course...

, and learns the fundamentals of patrolling
Patrolling
Patrolling is a military tactic. Small groups or individual units are deployed from a larger formation to achieve a specific objective and then return. The tactic of patrolling may be applied to ground troops, armoured units, naval units, and combat aircraft...

, warning and operations orders, and communications. The fundamentals of combat operations include battle drill
Battle drill
An Infantry battle drill describes how platoons and squads apply fire and maneuver to commonly encountered situations. They require leaders to make decisions rapidly and to issue brief oral orders quickly....

s (React to Contact, Break Contact, React to Ambush, Platoon Raid), which are focused on providing the principles and techniques that enable the squad-level element to successfully conduct reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and raid
Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

 missions. As a result, the Ranger student gains tactical and technical proficiency, confidence in himself, and prepares to move to the next phase of the course, the Mountain Phase.

Mountain Phase

The second phase of Ranger School is conducted at the remote Camp Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia by the 5th Ranger Training Battalion. Here, "students receive instruction on military mountaineering tasks, mobility training, as well as techniques for employing a platoon for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment". Adding to the physical hardships endured in the Benning phase, in this phase "the stamina and commitment of the Ranger student is stressed to the maximum. At any time, he may be selected to lead tired, hungry, physically expended students to accomplish yet another combat patrol mission". One of the mental hardships (asside from the pressures of training) is that the Mountain Phase is located 'in the middle of nowhere', several miles from any real civilization. This leaves the students feeling more isolated than they may feel during the other phases. In the winter, the temperatures drop very low at night, and many students (in addition to other ailments) receive frostbite. During the warmer months, Poison Ivy becomes a common adversary. The Ranger student continues learning how to sustain himself and his subordinates in the mountains. The rugged terrain, severe weather, hunger, mental and physical fatigue, and the psychological stress the student encounters allow him to measure his capabilities and limitations and those of his fellow soldiers.

In addition to combat operations, the student receives four days of military mountaineering training. The sequence of training has changed in past decades. As of 2010, the training sequence is as follows. In the first two days students learn knot
Knot
A knot is a method of fastening or securing linear material such as rope by tying or interweaving. It may consist of a length of one or several segments of rope, string, webbing, twine, strap, or even chain interwoven such that the line can bind to itself or to some other object—the "load"...

s, belays
Belaying
thumb|200px|right|A belayer is belaying behind a lead climberBelaying refers to a variety of techniques used in climbing to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far...

, anchor points, rope management, mobility evacuation, and the fundamentals of climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

 and abseiling
Abseiling
Abseiling , rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.- Slang terms :...

. The training ends in a two-day Upper mountaineering exercise at Yonah Mountain
Yonah Mountain
Yonah Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in the north of Georgia in the United States, between the towns of Cleveland and Helen...

, to apply the skills learned during Lower mountaineering. Each student must make all prescribed climbs at Mt. Yonah to continue in the course. During the field training exercise
Field training exercise
A Field training exercise, generally shortened to the acronym "FTX", describes a highly coordinated and well planned exercise conducted by military units for training purposes.-FTX's in Active Duty:...

 (FTX), students execute a mission requiring mountaineering skills.

Combat missions are against a conventionally-equipped threat force in a Mid-Intensity Conflict. These missions are both day and night in a two part, four and five day FTX, and include moving cross country over mountains, vehicle ambush
Ambush
An ambush is a long-established military tactic, in which the aggressors take advantage of concealment and the element of surprise to attack an unsuspecting enemy from concealed positions, such as among dense underbrush or behind hilltops...

es, raiding communications and mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 sites, river crossing, and scaling steeply-sloped mountainous terrain.

The Ranger student reaches his objective in several ways: cross-country movement, parachuting
Parachuting
Parachuting, also known as skydiving, is the action of exiting an aircraft and returning to earth with the aid of a parachute. It may or may not involve a certain amount of free-fall, a time during which the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal...

 into small drop zone
Drop zone
A drop zone is a place where parachutists or parachuted supplies land. It can be an area targeted for landing by paratroopers, or a base from which recreational parachutists and skydivers take off in aircraft and land under parachutes...

s, air assault
Air assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces...

s into small, mountain-side landing zones, or a 10-mile march across the Tennessee Valley Divide
Tennessee Valley Divide
The Tennessee Valley Divide is the eastern and southern boundary of the drainage basin of the Tennessee River and its tributaries.The Tennessee Valley Divide begins near the northeasternmost source of the Tennessee River, in the vicinity of Bluefield, West Virginia. From there, the divide...

. The student's commitment and physico-mental stamina are tested to the maximum. At the end of the Mountain Phase, the students travel by bus to a nearby airfield and conduct an airborne operation, parachuting into Florida Phase. Non-airborne are bussed to Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

 for the Florida Phase.

Florida Phase

The third phase of Ranger School is conducted at Camp James E. Rudder
Camp Rudder
Camp James E. Rudder is host to the third and final phase of a nine week training course, dubbed the "swamp phase", of the U.S. Army Ranger School...

 (Auxiliary Field #6), Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 by the 6th Ranger Training Battalion. According to the Ranger Training Brigade,
This phase focuses on the continued development of the Ranger Student's combat arms functional skills. Students receive instruction on waterborne operations, small boat movements, and stream crossings upon arrival. Practical exercises in extended platoon level operations executed in a coastal swamp environment test the Students’ ability to operate effectively under conditions of extreme mental and physical stress. This training further develops the Students' ability to plan and lead small units during independent and coordinated airborne, air assault, small boat, and dismounted combat patrol operations in a low intensity combat environment against a well trained, sophisticated enemy.


The Florida Phase continues the progressive, realistic OPFOR (opposing force
Opposing force
An opposing force or enemy force is a military unit tasked with representing an enemy, usually for training purposes in war game scenarios...

s) scenario. As the scenario develops, the students receive "in-country" technique training that assists them in accomplishing the tactical missions later in the phase. Technique training includes: small boat operations, expedient stream crossing techniques, and skills needed to survive and operate in a rainforest
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests , also known as tropical moist forests, are a tropical and subtropical forest biome....

/swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

 environment by learning how to deal with reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s and how to determine the difference between venomous
Venomous snake
"Poisonous snake" redirects here. For true poisonous snakes, see Rhabdophis.Venomous snakes are snakes which have venom glands and specialized teeth for the injection of venom...

 snakes and non-venomous snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s. Camp Rudder has specially trained reptile experts that teach the students to not fear the wildlife they encounter.

The Ranger students are updated on the scenario that eventually commits the unit to combat during techniques training. The 10-day FTX comprises "fast paced, highly stressful, challenging exercises in which the Students are evaluated on their ability to apply small unit tactics and techniques during the execution of raids, ambushes, movements to contact, and urban assaults to accomplish their assigned missions". The capstone of the course is the extensively-planned raid of the ALF's island stronghold. This small boat operation involves each platoon in the class, all working together on separate missions to take down the cartel
Cartel
A cartel is a formal agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers and manufacturers that agree to fix prices, marketing, and production. Cartels usually occur in an oligopolistic industry, where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products...

's final point of strength.

Afterwards, students who have met graduation requirements spend several days cleaning their weapons and equipment before returning to Fort Benning. By then they have earned PX (Post Exchange
Base exchange
A Base Exchange is a type of retail store operating on United States military installations worldwide...

) privileges, and access to a community center where they can use a telephone, eat civilian food, and watch television. In years past, the "Gator Lounge" served this purpose, but it was destroyed by a fire in late 2006. Graduation is at Fort Benning. In an elaborate ceremony at Victory Pond, the black-and-gold Ranger Tab
Ranger Tab
The Ranger Tab is a service school military decoration of the United States Army signifying completion of the 61-day long Ranger School course in small-unit infantry combat tactics in woodland, mountain, and swamp operations. In December 2009 a British NCO earned the Ranger tab...

 is pinned to the graduating soldier's left shoulder (usually by a relative, a respected RI, or soldier from the student's original unit). The Ranger Tab is permanently worn above the soldier's unit patch.

Desert Phase

The Desert Phase was designed to instruct its students in Desert Warfare operations and basic survival in the deserts of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. John Lock describes the Desert Phase as follows.
The phase commenced with an in-flight rigging and airborne assault—or an air assault landing by non airborne personnel, onto an objective. Following the mission, the students moved into a cantonment area. Remaining in garrison for five days, they then received classes on desert-survival techniques to include water procurement and water preservation. Leadership responsibilities, standing operating procedures (SOPs), reconnaissance, and ambush techniques were also reviewed. Additional emphasis was placed on battle drills to include react to enemy contact, react to indirect fire, and react to near and far ambushes. Drills on how to breach barbed and concertina wire with wire cutters and assault ladders were taught as were techniques on how to clear a trench line and how to assault a fortified bunker.
The remainder of the phase comprised patrolling during field training exercises—"reconnaissance, raid, or ambush missions". "The phase culminated with an airborne assault—with non-Airborne trucked—by the entire class on a joint objective."

Ranger School's initial evaluation of a Desert Phase was a cadre-lead patrol at White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range is a rocket range of almost in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR includes the and the WSMR Otera Mesa bombing range...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 in early 1971 called Arid Fox I. In June 1971, the Ranger Training Brigade conducted Arid Fox II, the first student-led patrol. This was part of the brigade's continuing evaluation of the possibility of integrating a Desert Phase into the Ranger course. The first students to undergo the Desert Phase were selected from Ranger Class 13-71 (class 13 in 1971). When the bulk of the class went on to begin the Florida phase, the airborne qualified members of Ranger Class 13-71 (Desert) donned MC1-1 parachutes, boarded a C-130 aircraft and parachuted into the White Sands Missile Range.

Upon formal integration into the Ranger Course, the Desert Phase was initially run by the Ranger School's 4th (Desert Ranger) Training Company stationed at Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss is a United States Army post in the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. With an area of about , it is the Army's second-largest installation behind the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. It is FORSCOM's largest installation, and has the Army's largest Maneuver Area behind the...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 from 1983 to 1987. When the Desert Phase was officially introduced, the length of Ranger School was lengthened to 65 days. At the outset, the Desert Phase was the last phase of the Ranger Course—following the Benning, Mountain and Florida Phases, respectively.

In 1987, the unit was expanded into the 7th Ranger Training Battalion and moved to Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

.

In October of 1991, the course was increased to sixty-eight days and the sequence was changed to Fort Benning, Desert (Fort Bliss, Texas), Mountain, and Florida. In May of 1995, the school underwent its most recent change when the Desert phase was discontinued." The last Ranger School class to go through the Desert Phase was class 7-95.

Leadership positions

A student's graduation is highly dependent on his performance in graded positions of leadership. This leadership ability is evaluated at various levels in various situations, and is observed while he is in one of his typically two graded leadership roles per phase. He can either meet the high standards and be given a "GO" by the R.I., or he can fail to meet this standard and receive the dreaded "NO GO". He must demonstrate the ability to meet the standard in order to move forward, and can thus only afford one unsuccessful patrol. His success will lie in his ability to essentially manipulate the men directly underneath his charge of leadership. At times, this will be as few as two to three men—and at other times he may be required to lead up to an entire 45 man platoon. His success can be dependent on the performance and team work of these individuals, whom he must motivate and lead. Missions are typically broken up into four stages: planning, movement, actions on the objective, and establishment of a patrol base. Key leadership positions—as well as important supporting positions such as medic, Forward Observer (FO), and Radiotelephone Operator (RTO)—are reassigned for each of the stages of a mission.

Peer evaluations

Another part of the evaluation of the student is a peer evaluation; failing a peer evaluation (scoring less than a 60% approval rating from your squad) can result in disqualification, though usually only if it happens twice. Due to unit loyalties, certain individuals within a squad who may be "the odd man out" will sometimes be singled out by the squad arbitrarily. Because of this, someone who has been "peered out" or "peered," will be moved to another squad, sometimes within another platoon, in order to ensure that this was not the reason the student was peered. If it happens within this new squad, however, this is generally an indication that student is being singled out because he is either lazy, incompetent, or cannot keep up. At this time he will usually be removed from the course.

It is possible for the evaluation process to be completed via agreement within a squad—also known as "rigging" the peers system. In other words, squad members all agree to rate one another in such a manner that no one is singled out. Ranger School cadre watch for such attempt. If discovered, all involved students could be dropped from the course for an honor violation.

Recycling

If a student performs successfully, but suffers an injury that keeps him from finishing, he may be re-cycled at the discretion of either the battalion or the Ranger Training Brigade commander; he’ll be given an opportunity to heal and finish the course with the next class. Students recycled in the first phase are temporarily assigned to Vaughn's Detachment (informally known as the "Gulag" to Ranger students). Recycled students typically receive daily classes on Ranger School tasks and perform general tasks for their respective Ranger Training Battalion. While marking time at Ranger School is not always pleasant, those who have been recycled typically perform well when reinserted back into the course, with pass rates well over 80%.

Students can also be recycled for failing a leadership evaluation on patrol; however, if a student fails a phase twice from patrols, he will usually be offered a "day one restart," and will restart on Day 1 of the next Ranger School class. In rare cases, those assessed of honor violations (lying, cheating, stealing) and Special Observation Reports (SORs) may be offered a day one restart as opposed to being dropped from the course. Students that fall in these categories must obtain permission from the Ranger Training Brigade Commander to reenter Ranger School at a later date.

Graduation Rates

Historically, the graduation rate has been around 50%, but this has fluctuated. In the period prior to 1980, the Ranger School attrition rate was over 65%. 64% of Ranger School class 10-80 graduated. The graduation rate has dropped below 50% in recent years: 52% in 2005, 54% in 2006, 56% in 2007, 49% in 2008, 46% in 2009, and 43% in 2010. Recycles are included in the graduation rates. Recycles are tracked by the class they start with, and affect only that class's
graduation rate.

Physical effects

Following the completion of Ranger School, a student will usually find himself "in the worst shape of his life". Military folk wisdom has it that Ranger School's physical toll is like years of natural aging; high levels of fight-or-flight stress hormones (epinephrine
Epinephrine
Epinephrine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels, dilates air passages and participates in the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. In chemical terms, adrenaline is one of a group of monoamines called the catecholamines...

, norepinephrine
Norepinephrine
Norepinephrine is the US name for noradrenaline , a catecholamine with multiple roles including as a hormone and a neurotransmitter...

, cortisol
Cortisol
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid, produced by the adrenal gland. It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat,...

), along with standard sleep deprivation and continual physical strain, inhibit full physical and mental recovery throughout the course.

Common maladies during the course include weight loss, dehydration
Dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

, trench foot
Trench foot
Trench foot is a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions. It is one of many immersion foot syndromes...

, heatstroke, frostbite
Frostbite
Frostbite is the medical condition where localized damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and those with large exposed areas...

, chilblains, fractures, tissue tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles), swollen hands, feet, knees, nerve damage, loss of limb sensitivity, cellulitis
Cellulitis
Cellulitis is a diffuse inflammation of connective tissue with severe inflammation of dermal and subcutaneous layers of the skin. Cellulitis can be caused by normal skin flora or by exogenous bacteria, and often occurs where the skin has previously been broken: cracks in the skin, cuts, blisters,...

, contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a term for a skin reaction resulting from exposure to allergens or irritants . Phototoxic dermatitis occurs when the allergen or irritant is activated by sunlight....

, cuts, and insect, spider, bee, and wildlife bites.

Because of the physical and psychological effect of low calorie intake over an extended period of time, it is not uncommon for many Ranger School graduates to encounter weight problems as they return to their units and their bodies and minds slowly adjust to routine again. A drastically lowered metabolic rate, combined with a nearly insatiable appetite (the result of food deprivation and the ensuing survivalist mentality) can cause quick weight gain, as the body is already in energy (fat) storing mode.

Food and sleep deprivation

A Ranger student's diet and sleep are strictly controlled by the Ranger Instructors. During time in garrison students are given three meals a day, but forced to eat extremely quickly and without any talking. During field exercises Ranger students are given two MRE
MRE
The Meal, Ready-to-Eat — commonly known as the MRE — is a self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging bought by the United States military for its service members for use in combat or other field conditions where organized food facilities are not available...

s (Meal, Ready-to-eat) per day, but not allowed to eat them until given permission. Since food and sleep are at the bottom of an infantryman's priorities of work behind security, weapons maintenance, and personal hygiene it is generally the last thing Ranger students are allowed to do. Though the Ranger student's daily caloric intake of 2200 calories might be enough for the average person, Ranger students are under such physical stress that this amount is insufficient. The Ranger Training Brigade does not maintain weight information in the 21st century, but in the 1980s, Ranger Students lost an average of 30 pounds during the Ranger course.

Ranger Training Deaths

Ranger School is designed to physically stress students to a point short of death. But deaths have occurred during Ranger Training. "In the winter of 1977, two students died of hypothermia when they lost contact with their main element in the Florida swamp. In 1985, again while in the Florida phase, a soldier drowned while trying to cross a stream against a strong current." In March 1992, a student with the "sickle cell anemia trait" died after exposure to high altitude and stress in the mountain phase. The Ranger Training Brigade did not know about his existing medical issue until after his death. In August 1992, a Ranger student died from a fall on the Slide for Life.

The "worst incident in the 44-year history of the school" occurred on 15 February 1995 during the Florida Phase of class 3-95. Captain Milton Palmer, 2LT Spencer Dodge, 2LT Curt Sansoucie, and SGT Norman Tillman died from hypothermia. Investigations of the incident were conducted by the US Air Force, the Ranger Training Brigade, and the US Army's Safety Board. The results were determined to be a result of a combination of human errors exacerbated by "unexpected weather conditions". Nine Ranger Instructors were disciplined and the 6th Ranger Training Battalion commander was relieved. As there was no basis for criminal charges, none were court martialed. The four deceased Ranger School students were posthumously awarded the Ranger Tab.

As a result of the 1995 deaths, 38 new safety measures were implemented in the Florida Phase. According to John Lock,
New equipment is now on hand to assist troubled students; equipment which includes one-man inflatable rafts designed to get Rangers out of the water and to arrest hypothermia, water measuring devices, and global positioning systems. Monitoring stations have also been installed in swamp locations to provide better information on weather and water conditions. Command and control procedures now include the Ranger Battalion Commander who will make the final call as to whether waterborne operations are a Go, No Go, or modified—on-site RIs [Ranger Instructors] also have the authority to call off an operation should the situation warrant it. Additionally, training lanes will be walked by RIs prior to the exercise and there will be no deviation in the landing sites for the patrols.

See also

  • Recondo
    Recondo
    Recondo is an American military term for a combination of RECONnaissance and DOughboy special training or a graduate of a Recondo school.-History:...

  • Ranger Assessment and Selection Program
  • United States Army Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course
    United States Army Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course
    United States Army Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course is an elite five week school offered by 4th Ranger Training Battalion to soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen to train them to expert levels in reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, battle damage assessment, foreign...


External links

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