FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy spoke to the October 2018 graduating class of the Ranger Course Oct. 26 at Victory Pond at Fort Benning, Georgia.

McCarthy, who also served as the acting secretary of the Army in 2017, was himself a Ranger and supported Operation Enduring Freedom with the 75th Ranger Regiment, U.S. Special Operations Command.

During his remarks, he described the difficulties the graduates are expected to face in the military careers.

"You get the toughest jobs under the worst conditions," said McCarthy, "but now this is an expectation for every day for the rest of your life. Now the hard work begins. In school you were taught [to] never fail your comrades as a mindset. You can't take it easy, you can't hang back. The difference is now, there's a squad, there's a platoon, there's a company waiting for you at your home station. You lead every patrol. And next time the bullets and the bad guys are going to be real."

He also thanked those who were there to support their new Rangers.

"I want to take the opportunity to thank the Families and friends who are here today," said McCarthy. "You too endure the sacrifices and the hardship of being an Army Family. You probably lost a little bit of sleep over the last two months thinking about the men and women who are out here. So, on behalf of the Army, I want to thank you for your continuing support and being the strength behind these men."

During later remarks, McCarthy also talked about the importance of Fort Benning to the U.S. Army, both as the center for the Infantry and Armor branches as well as the first place recruits come to know during their careers as Soldiers.

"Fort Benning really is the footprint of the Army," he said. "It's where we bring in recruits from hometowns and cities from all over the country, and this is where we assess them. They're indoctrinated into the Army right here."

Of the 340 students that began the Ranger course, only 57 enlisted and 83 officer candidates successfully completed the course to make it to the Oct. 26 graduation ceremony. The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade conducts the 61-day Ranger course in three segments: an initial phase at Fort Benning, a mountain phase at Dahlonega, Georgia, and a swamp phase at Camp Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

To learn more about Ranger School, visit www.benning.army.mil/infantry/ARTB/Student-Information.