What Is A US Army Ranger?
What Do Army Rangers Do?
Army Rangers are an elite light infantry unit.
They are a large scale force that is typically involved in joint special operations raids, airborne assaults, reconnaissance missions, and search and rescue.
Think of them as a smaller, highly trained, and very mobile version of an Army company that is tasked to deal with specific situations.
Need an airfield quickly taken over? Call the Army Rangers.
US Government requires a communications array to be taken over and destroyed? Call the Army Rangers.
Have a power plant in enemy territory that needs to be secured? Call the Army Rangers.
What Do Green Berets Do?
Green Berets are teachers (and practitioners) of unconventional warfare.
Green Berets specialize in 5 primary missions: unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, direct action missions, and foreign internal defense.
This can involve everything from supporting, training, and equipping foreign fighting services, to conducting reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines.
Need a military unit capable of counter-narcotics specialization? Call the Green Berets.
Training the indigenous peoples of a 3rd world country how to fight? Call the Green Berets.
Need to keep the peace in some worldwide hotspot? Call the Green Berets.
Green Beret Vs. Army Ranger Selection Process
US Army Ranger Selection Process
To join Ranger Battalion, you need to sign a contract with an addendum marking you as an X-Ray applicant.
If you’re infantry, then you’ll be an 11X-Ray, meaning that after Basic and Advanced Infantry Training and Airborne School, you’ll go to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP).
Compared to RASP, Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, and Airborne School will feel like summer camp.
RASP Phase 1
RASP is eight weeks long, split into 2 four-week phases.
Phase One, testing phase, consists of 6 to 12 mile ruck-marches with a 50-pound pack, timed 5 mile runs, medical skills tests, and psychological exams.
However, according to some, the most grueling part of phase one in RASP is the day and nighttime navigation tests.
Using only a map and compass, Ranger candidates must make their way to an objective, working sometimes as a group and other times individually.
RASP Phase 2
Phase Two begins the Ranger skills training, consisting of combat driving, marksmanship and tactics, and even some explosives and breaching training.
If you successfully complete RASP, you get the esteemed honor of donning a tan beret, a symbol to the world that you’re a real Army Ranger.
Army Green Beret Selection Process
Similar to how a new recruit can sign up to enter RASP right after Airborne School, if a recruit is over the age of 29 and a male (sorry, ladies), instead of RASP, he could option to go directly to SF selection.
SF selection, formally known as Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) and colloquially known as the “Q Course,” is a two-year process.
However, before a soldier even gets to the Q Course, he has to pass a 19-day pre-selection course called Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning (SFPC).
This short course consists of physical training and land navigation tests, and is intended to weed out soldiers that are not prepared for the rigors of the Q Course.
But passing SFPC and getting into the Q Course doesn’t mean you’re a Green Beret.
The Q Course consists of six distinct phases (the sixth really just being the graduation), and each one presents its own unique challenges.
Q Course Phase 1
Phase I of the Q Course covers course orientation and Special Forces history, and lasts for seven weeks.
In that time, students cover everything from military planning and decision making to an Airborne operations refresher, as well as the familiarization of how SF operates worldwide.
Q Course Phase 2
Phase II, Language and Culture training, sends the candidate to the Defense Language Institute for 18 to 25 weeks, depending on the language he was assigned.
At DLI, students become adept in the conversational application of their specific language, as well as educated on the historical and current political, economic, and ethnic components associated with their training.
Q Course Phase 3
Phase III, small unit tactics and SERE training, is probably the most infamous of all the phases.
The phase lasts 13 weeks, and while the majority of it covers such skills as advanced marksmanship and urban operations, at the end of the training, a student has to endure a five-day survival, evasion, resistance, and escape test (SERE).
The test is exactly what it sounds like: a student has to prove that he can procure food and water while alone in the wilderness.
He has to evade aggressive tracking techniques, typically involving dogs.
The candidate also has to resist “simulated” interrogation techniques (like open hand slaps to the face while strapped to a chair), and escape capture.
Although you may not be an official Green Beret after SERE, if you pass, in my book you are an official badass.
Q Course Phase 4
Phase IV is MOS (military occupational specialty) training, and it’s here that each soldier either becomes a medic, an engineer, a weapons specialists, a communications specialist, or, if you’re going through the Q Course as an officer, a Special Forces Detachment Officer.
This phase lasts anywhere from 14 to 50 weeks depending on the training.
Q Course Phase 5
The fifth phase of the Q Course is called “Robin Sage,” named for the nearby town of Robbins, North Carolina and for the WWII veteran colonel Jerry Sage who was one of the leading figures in teaching unconventional tactics.
Robin Sage lasts four weeks, and serves at the final test for Q Course candidates.
The phase puts all the skills the candidates have learned over the previous phases to the test.
In a fictional country called “Pineland,” which covers fourteen rural counties across North Carolina, students work together to devise a plan to recruit, train, and assist faux-guerrilla soldiers in the overthrow of an oppressive regime.
Once they present their plan to their commander, students parachute into Pineland and carry out their mission.
After Phase V, a student gets to move on the Phase VI, graduation, where he gets to don his Green Beret and officially join the ranks of the US Army Special Forces.