Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
This is a good but long article about making it through the US Army Ranger School: Army Ranger School is a Laboratory of Human Endurance.
I’ll say. Or, as Sheriff Walt Longmire would say, “Boy howdy” (Sorry, just binged out on three Longmire novels).
Whatever its pros and cons, if you go all the way through Ranger School you’ve earned a master’s degree in suffering; and in performing while suffering, which is pretty much the point.
The author is a Ranger-qualified veteran who goes back as a writer. He brought some memories back. If you go to Ranger School, the keyword is “suck.” All 24 hours of every day (even that one or two that you get to spend sleeping) suck. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Ranger School is the progenitor of the military philosophy of “embrace the suck.” But, the hardest thing you’ve ever done is the psychic high watermark for hard.
In my old career, being Ranger qualified was considered kind of an entry-level position. Okay, kid, you got your driver’s license; that doesn’t mean you’re ready to compete in NASCAR. One of the tropes about Ranger School is that “you learn who you are.” Okay. I learned that I don’t like patrolling 18-22 hours a day humping a rucksack heavy enough to qualify as ridonckulous. I learned I don’t like getting only one, maybe two, MREs per day when I would’ve needed about 5 for my body to compensate for the caloric output. I learned I don’t like being so sleep deprived that I hallucinate. I learned that I can tell when my body switches from burning fat to burning higher protein muscle by the smell of my own body odor. The author states that Ranger students lose up to 20 pounds during the course. I found that number too short by half. Twice that.* I think I knew all that stuff going in.
But I’m glad I went. The author attended the school and then bird-dogged with a Ranger class as a writer when the school was only three phases: Darby, mountains, and swamp. When I went (twice), there was a fourth phase, desert. The desert phase was out in Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah. That’s where we (US government we, not Ranger we) do Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation of all the radiological, chemical and bioweapons that are the stuff of nightmares. We had to carry live atropine injectors in case we hit a bit of nastiness that hadn’t been properly cleaned up. Also, whatever was in the soil there turned the black leather of our combat boots purple. Weird, right?
The author does a good job describing the privations that are inherent to the school.
I can remember doing a hit in the mountain phase. The mission was a raid. The objective was a little house tucked into a hollow (in Infantry-ese, they are called draws. Draws suck. Draws are where the monsters are). It was 0-dark-thirty. The only light was from the sliver of the moon reflecting off the pre-dawn mist clinging to the walls of the hollow. We had dumped non-essential equipment earlier. We were exhausted to the point of hallucinations. We were malnourished to the point of starvation. We were, in the parlance, a soup sandwich.
But as I watched my Ranger brethren ghost silently down the sides of the mountain like wraiths, I realized that we were also very, very good.
The raid went off without a hitch.
*I went all the way through Ranger school (i.e., completed every phase at least once) and got bounced out for not passing enough patrols. So a couple of years later I went back. I was a young Infantry officer with aspirations to go to Special Forces. So about 30-35% of the reason I went back was because I thought it right and proper that a guy on that career path be Ranger qualified and 65-70% of the reason that I went back was so that I could legitimately say that I got screwed the first time I went. If you don’t go back and earn your due, then it’s all just sour grapes. Weight loss through both iterations was greater than 40 pounds.Published in