Surviving the Cut

I just finished watching the first installment of Discoery Channels’ new series “Surviving the Cut.” The series premier followed a class of soldiers through the US Army’s Ranger School.

Not a bad program. It’s hard to cram a 61 day course into an hour of television. And it is flatly impossible to convey the sheer level of hunger, fatigue and discomfort that is deliberately built in to the course.

I’m not a Ranger. I never went to any of the high-speed courses in the Army. I’ve done just about all the tasks that a student would go through in Ranger School. But what I didn’t have to do was face the grind of doing it for 2 straight months with no more than 4 hours sleep a night, and on no more than one or two meals a day. It’s pretty easy to put up with misery for a five day training exercise. But fatigue is cumulative. What may be easy on Day 5 is damn near impossible on Day 50.

Next week the show brings us the Air Forces Pararescue course. It is a tennent of the Army that the Air Force may wear uniforms, but they aren’t really military. PJ’s are the exception to that rule.

6 thoughts on “Surviving the Cut”

  1. ” PJ’s are the exception to that rule.”

    Man, you got that right. Pararescue is some of the toughest training in the military.

    There is one part of Ranger School that you used to get just one MRE a day. A couple of SEAL friends went through the course and hated that part. I understand they upped it to two MREs a day.

    One of my classmates had been in Co O Artic Rangers at Richardson, and his tab was sewn on with white thread (signifying he went through in winter). He and watched a one hour documentary on Ranger School back in the late 70s. It hurt my poor Sailor ears to hear his response.

    He had some pretty hard luck going through Ranger School. One part of the course he spent on Eglin AFB in a foxhole as Hurricane Camille went over. I can think of better places to be when a Hurricane comes ashore.

  2. One of the happiest days of my life was when I cracked my kneecap on Day 4 of Ranger School and I was able to withdraw with honor….hobbled on over to IMPC and TOW School instead!

    Not having a Ranger tab meant I could not be assigned to LI units as an officer….but that never bothered me.

  3. Just saw the PJ show the other night. At least they give the civilians a taste of what it’s like–but as you say, XBrad, nothing really conveys cumulative effect. Only thing I can compare it two as a zoomie was the 2-a-day football practices I went thru in full pads in the middle of Aug. in HS. And we got a 3 hr break for lunch and the weekend off! And I STILL thought it was like the Bataan Death march DESPITE being in the prime of my physical life and energy! 🙂 (Of course Coach was old school, so no water was allowed during the 3-4 hr practices. Amazed no one ever died of heat stroke.)

  4. Ranger School is interesting in that it is one of very few school that isn’t really there to try to teach you something. Every class in the course is geared towards what you need to know to graduate. You likely will never use any of it again.

    The whole point of the course is one big gut check.

    The only other course that I can think of off the top of my head like that is BUD/S with its infamous Hell Week.

    I mean, there’s not some secret annex to the Ranger Handbook that has super secret squirrel stuff about how to conduct a patrol. Patrolling is patrolling. But few other places in the service will take a very junior soldier or brand spanking new officer, and put them in charge of a patrol and then do everything they can to make that patrol fail. How the leader deals with that adversity is the real question.

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