Embarking on the journey of becoming a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment is an experience like no other. The best advice I got before I joined the military was, “You get out of it what you put into it.” It was true, and the Ranger Regiment will demand that you put everything you’ve got into soldiering while you are in a Ranger Battalion. It isn’t easy, not everyone has what it takes to be a Ranger, but I want prospective Rangers to know that the Regiment is the best possible place that they can be as a new soldier. As a Ranger, you will get the best of everything, the best training, the best equipment, and the best leadership. You’ll need all of it when you hit the ground in a combat zone, and the odds are high that you will with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
“You better slow it down High Speed!”
It was the First Sergeant in charge of the Ranger Indoctrination Program yelling at me; never a good thing. I wasn’t slowing down this time though, not after a string of screw ups on my part and bad luck generally. This was my final chance to pass RIP and don the tan beret, becoming a part of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Who knew a 12-mile road march could cause you so much drama?
“Roger, First Sergeant,” I yelled back and kept running. I still had another ten miles or so ahead of me. It was my second attempt at RIP, the first time through I got told to fall out of formation during the 12-miler and get on the bus with the other failures. Apparently, I had gotten more than one arm’s length from the rucksack of the man in front of me, grounds for failure of the entire event. I must have had some serious boo-boo lip going. We were about 500 yards from the finish line.
I was allowed to re-test and this time it was a release road march, no formation, just an individual event, a 12-mile race against the clock. I was in great shape and knew that there was no way I could blow it this time. The re-test came and we prepared to step off. Fort Benning, Georgia is a really wretched place that often has a 100% humidity, leaving you feeling like you are breathing through a sponge. Minutes into the march and you will be soaked, not in sweat, but from the water hanging in the air.
About six miles into the march, I was short of breath, other Ranger candidates passing me up left and right as I fell behind. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, I knew I could complete the event, but for some reason by body just wouldn’t allow me to that day.
Failing the re-test, I was then given the option to recycle and start RIP all over again from the very beginning, or VW (Voluntary Withdrawal) and accept an assignment in the regular Army. I took the recycle option in a heartbeat. Arriving back in RIP hold, with the latest batch of Privates waiting to attempt the course, I was confronted by Staff Sergeant Phipps. Sergeant Phipps was a great role model for a young soldier and PT’ed the hell out of us while we were waiting to begin RIP. Everyone looked up to Sergeant Phipps knowing that he served as a Ranger in Mogadishu during the infamous Black Hawk Down incident.
“So you failed RIP the first time, what makes you think you will pass it now? What’s going to change in four days?”
I swallowed. Good question. My feet were hamburger and I was a having trouble breathing correctly during periods of physical exertion. What would be different this time around?
“I think I need to go to sick call tomorrow morning, Sergeant.”
Sergeant Phipps wasn’t very encouraging but agreed. I could go to sick call tomorrow but this afternoon we had a practice PT test to do. Afterwords, I had to peel my bloody socks of my feet.
The next day I went to sick call and found out that I was, in fact, sick, and one of my lungs way half way filled up with fluid. No wonder I couldn’t catch my breath. I told the nurse that I had to start RIP again in four days and couldn’t be on any prescription drugs while I was in the course. She gave me some extra-strength antibiotic pills and sent me on my way.
The Ranger Indoctrination Program was a three week course (now called RASP and upgraded to 8-weeks with far more training) to test and assess prospective Rangers for suitability in the Ranger Regiment. Tested events included the PT test, the Combat Water Survival Test, 5-mile run, 6-mile ruck march, 12-mile ruck march, land navigation, medical training, fast roping, parachuting, and much more along with the mandatory smoke sessions in between.
To be clear, smoke sessions are periods in which us Privates were broken in via physical exercises such as the push-up and flutter kicks into oblivion. Sergeant Phipps was clear that it wasn’t the RIP cadre’s job to smoke us. They simply put out a standard to achieve and if we failed, then we would be physically corrected. It was at times difficult to disagree with Sergeant Phipp’s logic.
Perhaps the most motivating thing about RIP was seeing how effective it was at separating the boys from the men. I’d gone through Infantry Basic Training and Airborne School with numerous soldiers who had absolutely no business being in RIP. After the first week of RIP they were all gone. The second week thinned the herd some more. The last week culled a few just days before graduation. Who knew that a guy who jumped out of an airplane five times in Airborne School would be afraid to slide down a rope out of a 50-foot tower during fast rope training?
Cole Range was the real torture season that everyone dreaded. While out in the woods, you learn land navigation techniques with a map and compass before conducting day and night navigation exercises in buddy teams before going out alone during the graded portion. In between the land navigation training, the cadre smoked us day and night. While this might seem sadistic to outsiders, these smoke sessions are about seeing who has the mental toughness to progress to the next phase.
The soldier who quits during a smoke session will almost certainly quit in combat. If that metal fortitude isn’t there in training, it isn’t going to magically appear during a fire fight.
After having to hold our 45-pound rucksacks above our heads until muscle failure, we would be treated to push ups, flutter kicks and more before going back to the rucksack. We were all exhausted when a fresh RIP cadre showed up to relieve his buddy who was “physically correcting” us.
He told us to ground our rucks and lay face first in the dirt. We were instructed to stay facing down and close our eyes, just listen to what he had to say. The new instructor began telling us about how we could quit at any time. We could quit and go to the regular Army. We could quit and still be good Americans. We had all seen the other quitters over by the campfire, chatting and eating in MRE’s. We could quit, still be good Americans, do great things in the Army, and sit by the fire. There was no reason for the smoke sessions and relentless training events. Just quit, you can still be a good American after all.
So go ahead, we were told. No one would see you quit. We were all face down with our eyes closed. No one would ever know. I didn’t consider quitting, but I did consider going to sleep. I was already lying down and completely exhausted.
To my surprise, I heard the Privates on both my flanks get up and quit right then and there. Quitting is easy, and you get to eat MRE’s by the fire.
Finally, it was time for that 12-miler again. Once again, I was told to get on the bus, my third time. I just couldn’t keep up and maintain the one arm’s length with the man in front of me. Then the re-test, the release road march. That was when the First Sergeant told me to slow down, wisely advising me to pace myself.
I ran the entire 12 miles and didn’t slow down for anything. When I passed the finish line there was a cadre waiting with a stop watch.
“Okay Murphy, ground your ruck. Good work.”
I looked around in shock. I was the first one back.
After that the cadre treated me differently. Bad luck, screw ups, whatever. I didn’t quit and had shown that I was serious about wanting to be a Ranger. Of course, this was just the beginning. Life doesn’t get any easier once you graduate and get to a Ranger Battalion. Actually, it gets a lot harder.
That said, when you don the tan beret down at the Ranger memorial outside Building #4 at Ft. Benning, you will feel damn proud and have supreme confidence in the men standing in formation to your left and right.
- Be a male (75th Regiment positions are not open to women)
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Volunteer for assignment and be on active duty
- Have a General Technical Score of 107 or higher
- A Physical Training score of 240 or above (80% on each event)
- No physical limitations
- Qualify and volunteer for Airborne training
- A person of good character (no pending UCMJ action or drug or alcohol related incidents within 24 months)
- Must enlist into or currently hold a Military Occupational Specialty found in the 75th Ranger Regiment
- Able to attain at minimum a Secret clearance
11B soldiers (E-6 and above) with Long-Range Surveillance experience are encouraged to inquire about opportunities within the Regimental Recon Company.
Additionally, Army officer applicants must:
- Be an officer of grade O-2 through O-4
- Qualify for a Top Secret Security Clearance
- Be serving at or have completed a tour at one duty station
- Meet Year Group specific criteria
- Hold an officer Military Occupational Specialty found in the 75th Ranger Regiment
Current MOS’s Authorized for Hire in the 75th Ranger Regiment
11B – INFANTRYMAN
11C – INDIRECT FIRE INFANTRYMAN
11Z – INFANTRY SENIOR SERGEANT
12B – COMBAT ENGINEER
13F – FIRE SUPPORT SPECIALIST
21H – CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING SUPERVISOR
21R – INTERIOR ELECTRICIAN
21W – CARPENTRY AND MASONRY SPECIALIST
21Y – GEOSPACIAL ANALYST
25B – INFO SYS OPR-ANALYST
25C – TELECOMMUNICATIONS
25P – MICROWAVE SYSTEMS OPERATOR-MAINTAINER
25S – SATELLITE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
25U – SIGNAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS SPECIALIST
25W – TELECOMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS CHIEF
27D – PARALEGAL SPECIALIST
35F – INTEL ANALYST
35G – GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE IMAGERY ANALYST
35M – HUMAN INTEL COLLECTOR
35N – SI ANALYST
35P – CRYPTOLOGIC COMMUNICATIONS
36B – ACCOUNTING SPECIALIST
42A – HUMAN RESOURCES SPECIALIST
42L – ADMINISTRATIVE SPECIALIST
56M – CHAPLAIN ASSISTANT
68J – MEDICAL LOGISTICS SPECIALIST
68S – PREVENTIVE MEDICINE SPECIALIST
68W – HEALTH CARE SPECIALIST
74D – CHEMICAL OPERATIONS SPECIALIST
88M – MOTOR TRANSPORT OPERATOR
88N – TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT
89B – AMMUNITION SPECIALIST
91B – LIGHT-WHEEL VEHICLE MECHANIC
91C – UTILITIES EQUIPMENT REPAIRER
91D – POWER-GENERATION EQUIPMENT
91F – SMALL ARMS/ARTILLERY REPAIRER
91K – ARMAMENT REPAIRER
91W- METAL WORKER
92A – AUTOMATED LOGISTICAL SPECIALIST
92F – PETROLEUM SUPPLY SPECIALIST
92G – FOOD SERVICE OPERATIONS
92L – PETROLEUM LABORATORY SPECIALIST
92R – PARACHUTE RIGGER
92W – WATER TREATMENT SPECIALIST
92Y – UNIT SUPPLY SPECIALIST
94E- RADIO AND COMMUNICATION SECURITY
94F – SPECIAL ELECTRONIC DEVICES
94W – ELECTRONIC MAINTENANCE CHIEF
To get started, contact an Army recruiter and refer further questions to [email protected]