The training areas near Fort Bliss, Texas can be unforgiving.
There is no shade and summer temperatures creep into the hundreds
regularly. It's the perfect place to see what Soldiers are made of –
if they have what it takes to go to the U.S. Army Ranger School at
Fort Benning, Georgia.
“Ranger School is hard, it's got an
incredibly high washout rate, it's incredibly demanding,” said Capt.
Daniel Plumb, commander, Iron Training Detachment, 1st Armored
Division. “We give them the tools to mentally, physically prepare
for Ranger school.”
Cadet Jessica Soto, United States Military Academy at West
Point, N.Y., runs back to her position followed by other cadets after assisting in loading a
simulated casualty for medevac during the Fort Bliss Pre-Ranger
Course near Fort Bliss, Texas June 14, 2016. (Photo by Abigail
Waldrop, Fort Bliss Public Affairs)
The Pre-Ranger Course instructors here are certified
Ranger instructors and the curriculum is intense. The
three-week course gets Soldiers ready for the school's
mental and physical challenges. This iteration, cadets from
the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York,
were invited to participate while they were here for their
three-week Cadet Troop Leader Training.
of their summer training is usually to shadow a lieutenant
and that can be accomplished in a lot of different ways. It
can be accomplished in the motor pool, or like what just
happened here, which is where they shadowed lieutenants out
in the Pre-Ranger program,” Plumb said. “I think they
learned more about combat and maneuver ... what it's like to
be a private, what it's like to be a leader in a stressful
Four cadets volunteered and were
dropped in on the course from June 14 through 17, 2016.
Cadet Kevin Talty, a math and Portuguese major and rising
junior, was looking to keep a positive mindset as the week
“I expect it to be a challenge, a very, very hard
challenge and that I learn a lot and I push myself,” Talty
The cadets attended the final week of the
course, so they didn't have to complete the Ranger
Assessment Phase or advanced land navigation, but they went
right in to the field for three days of grueling combat
patrols in extreme conditions.
“As soon as they
arrived they were put right to work,” said Sgt. 1st Class
Reag Wood, noncommissioned officer in charge, Fort Bliss
Pre-Ranger course. “We literally went from our headquarters
to our base camp and within 30 minutes they were inserted in
a squad and stepping off on a combat patrol.”
Pre-Ranger students and the four cadets trekked miles in the
hills and desert of the Fort Bliss training area conducting
operations from ambushes, to reconnaissance, to conducting a
medevac for a simulated casualty.
“It really shows
the character on their part, as volunteers for something
this tough. They were told the rigors and they still
volunteered for it and did an exceptional job,” Wood said.
The Pre-Ranger students were graded in their leadership
roles on the five principles of patrolling: planning,
reconnaissance, security, control and common sense. While
the cadets weren't graded, Cadet Jessica Soto, a rising
senior and Spanish major from El Paso, said she wanted to
support those who hoped to receive a recommendation for
Ranger School. She expected the course to be challenging and
“It's amazing, it's a killer on
your body, on your mind, because you're running on one hour
of sleep, minimal food and water and you're still getting a
crazy amount of work done,” Soto said.
The El Paso
native said the experience allowed her to get a taste of the
“real Army” and feels fortunate for the opportunity.
“It was awesome to get this level of training at such an early
stage in our career,” Soto said.
Talty said he learned a lot
in the short time they were in the field.
“This is how the
light infantry unit would conduct an ambush, this is how they would
conduct reconnaissance,” Talty said. “Getting first-hand experience
that I cannot otherwise get at this level is very important to my
This cycle of the Pre-Ranger course started
with about 40 Soldiers. Eight finished and six received
recommendations to attend the school at Fort Benning. Plumb said he
hopes more cadets or Reserve Officers Training Corps students attend
the course in the future.
By Abigail Waldrop, Fort Bliss Public Affairs
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