The course started with almost 30 Soldiers, as the sun set on the first day, that number had dwindled down. At the end of the three-day course, 20 Soldiers stood information and recited the Ranger Creed.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment hosted a Pre-Ranger Course at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Calif., May 18-20. The program was aimed to assess and prepare the individuals striving to enter the U.S. Army Ranger School.
The high attrition rate was indicative of the physical and mental rigors of the actual course, said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Malcolm, the noncommissioned officer of the course and a former instructor at the Ranger School.
"Most the guys who fell out quit within eight hours," he said, addressing the students' leaders during the PRC graduation ceremony. "You should be proud of these guys."
The Army's Ranger School is a 61-day long course that promotes and enhances a Soldier's leadership skills. The Pre-Ranger course is designed to give Soldiers interested in going to Ranger School a chance to assess themselves and gauge their level of preparedness for the grueling challenges of Ranger School.
The Honor Graduate was afforded to be put on top of the Order of Merit List, which would help him get entrance to the school.
The Soldiers of the Blackhorse Regiment serve as the premier opposing force for rotational training units who visit the NTC. The NTC is the last stop for units deploying to the theater. The 11th ACR provides the personnel to fill the training villages strewn in the training area known as "the box." During a RTUs time at the NTC, the Soldiers of the 11th ACR live and work in box. During the year, 10 rotational units go through the NTC, with each rotation lasting 14 days. This busy schedule means that training programs such as the Pre-Ranger Course have to be shortened to accommodate the Regiment's mission obligations.
The first event of the course was the Ranger Army Physical Fitness Test. The Soldiers were graded against the 17-21 year-old age bracket and must score at least 70 points on the events. The targeted scores translated to 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups. The run portion of the test consisted of a 5-mile run in which the Soldiers had to finish in under 40 minutes. After those three events, the Soldiers then had to do six chin-ups.
Other physically strenuous events included a 12-mile ruck-march, a run -through of the obstacle course, a night and day land navigation course and the Combat Water Survival Assessment. The CWSA had the Soldiers walking of the high dive into the pool. They did so while wearing ACUs, Load Carrying Equipment, boots and carrying a weapon. As soon as they hit the water, they had to remove their equipment and swim the length of the pool.
The Soldiers endured and overcame the overwhelming physical strains by employing their mental strength and intestinal fortitude said SFC Malcolm.
The course was not only a physical test, but also included classroom portions. The Soldiers received training on how to properly create a Warning Order, learn about the duties and responsibilities of leaders, including platoon-level, squad-level and higher.
The Pre-Ranger Course was a great tool to assess a student's readiness for the real Ranger School said Spc. Elijah Otten, A Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, a student of the course.
"It's to prepare me better for Ranger School," Otten said. "It enables us to have an idea of what to expect of the course, assess where we are physically and highlight our weaknesses and show us where we need more training."
He also explained why he joined the course and ultimately, to earn his Ranger Leadership tab. "They're the premium leaders in the Army."
A native of Prescott, Ariz., Otten said the most challenging test for him was the 12-mile ruck-march. The ruck-march is the event that he said he needs to improve on.
"We went six miles uphill straight," he said. "It was so dark out, it was a head trip."
Future Pre-Ranger Courses are planned according to Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Wilcox, the 11th ACR Regimental Command Sergeant Major. Wilcox helped spearhead the program and plans to make it a more reoccurring training event. He also said the training that Soldiers get out of the PRC and Ranger School is benefit for all.
"You're taking the first step, you got a taste of it, it wasn't a 72-hour cake walk either as you well know," he said. "The training you get here and follow on with Ranger School will not only help you, it will help your unit, squadron and the Regiment."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16