Come Along To Ranger School And See How The Army's Toughest Soldiers Get Made


Photo: US Army

One of the quickest ways to show how tough you are in th Army is to wear a Ranger tab. In the two months it takes to earn, a soldier’s mental and physical endurance is pushed to the absolute limits. He survives on one meal a day and a few hours of sleep per night.Check out Ranger School >

He arrives at Ft. Benning in the best shape of his life and will lose an average of 20 pounds if he stays the full course.

The Discovery Channel’s “Surviving the Cut” shows the 61-day course at Fort Benning and offers the world a glimpse at some of the toughest military training around. The attrition rate at Ranger School is intense and less than one-in-three achieve the coveted tab.

But that exclusivity carries certain privileges. At the sight of a Ranger tab on another soldier’s uniform, it’s not uncommon for new recruits to say: “He’s a Ranger? They kill motherf*ckers!” Or something very similar. 

338 Ranger candidates begin the 61 day course long before the sun's up — and won't stop for another 20 hours

It's a non-stop schedule including brutal hand-to-hand combat tests

Strength tests where they carry another soldier 100-yards have a practical design as well — this could be the move that saves anyone of their lives on the battlefield

The goal is to drive the troops to exhaustion with moves like this bear crawl — and to see how far they can keep going when they think they can go no further

That's why they run to the obstacle course — those lights are L shaped flashlights clipped to their uniforms with red filters to preserve night vision

Each soldier is assigned a partner — a battle buddy — to emphasise the importance of teamwork

But in the end it's up to the individual to overcome obstacles like this — even when it's so cold hands go numb and want to let go

Weakness is pounced upon and punished — but no one quits first day, they quit when they get back to the barracks and realise how brutal it actually was

Almost 40 guys have washed out by the morning of Day 2 — those remaining promptly confront great heights and cold water

The guys needs to climb a ladder to the narrow bridge — walk naturally across and shimmy down a zip-line on the far side

Some guys don't expect the heights and start dropping out — it won't be the last time today

No matter how well they make it across, everyone must drop into the frigid water wearing full gear and prove they can swim

Once everyone completes the course, they take their 60 pounds of gear and begin the 15 mile march back to the barracks. Not all of them make it.

After a few hours sleep — 232 soldiers line up for another day — 106 members shy of their original number. Nobody talks about the guys that are gone.

Today is the last day of the 'Benning Phase' where traditionally 60 per cent of potential Rangers wash-out

From Ft. Benning they ruck it to the 'Mountain Phase' at the remote Camp Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia

Aside from physical challenges like rappelling 100 feet with an 80-pound-pack ,the remote location brings intense isolation on top of extreme hardship

And there are hardships aplenty —Many of the guys chew coffee grounds and even put Tabasco sauce in their eyes

After more than two weeks in the mountains another 91 guys have quit or been dropped and from the original 338 only 141 remain

A month later soldiers that are left board a flight to the Everglades for the 'Swamp' portion of the course

This phase develops skills necessary to survive in rainforests and swamps, in part, by teaching soldiers how to deal with reptiles and identify venomous snakes

Finally, when they're out of the swamp — 10-day Field Training Exercise (FTX) begins — it's like the Final Exam

The exercise brings an extensively planned raid on the troops location

At this point, the students are essentially sleepwalking, relying on training and instincts to carry them through

Bursts of adrenaline help — like this gunfight where the guys extract a hostage from an occupied building

If for some reason an instructor fails a member of the group at this point — the trainee has to re-take it until he does it perfectly

This team wasn't following a noticeable plan when they first approached the building, but their leader woke up and whipped them into shape

Even after successfully completing the mission, the day wasn't over

The Ranger applicants then had to evaluate their peers on leadership skills — and whether they'd actually want to have them in their foxhole

After all that it's not until graduation that troops find out if they've been selected — or not

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