Check out these insider tips from a recent graduate of RASP – “Johnny Sierra” (his name is anonymous for OPSEC) as he answers questions from a group of prospective US Army Rangers.
SGPT: When did you go through training? What was your first day like?
Johnny Sierra: I actually had 2 first days. My first go was in October 2011, I made it about 3 weeks and developed a spiraling stress fracture in my right femur, which put me out for a few months.
I spent alot of time doing pool exercises and physical therapy to get back in shape. I went back for a second time in February 2013 graduating in April with Class 4-12.
Our first day was lots of mixed emotions for everyone. Personally I was excited and nervous at the same time. Having been in Pre-RASP for longer than anticipated I was ready to get back in Selection. We started around 0300 and did not end till around midnight. We were all exhausted from mental and physical stress. Guys were quitting left and right on the first day! But being through it once before, I knew what to expect and anticipate what was coming next.
Check out this RASP Ranger training video from National Geographic
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Question: How many guys started training and how many finished? What were reasons for drop?
Johnny Sierra: I cant remember the exact numbers but I want to say around 160 of us started the course and after Phase 1 we were down to around 80-90 guys. We graduated a little over 100, having picked up some Phase 3 inserts.
Guys were dropped for all sorst of reasons. Failure to meet standards (swim test, history test, weapons testing). Those guys were offered a chance to recycle and start at day 1 again. Some guys dropped due to injuries or medical reasons. But the biggest reason was quitting. I’d say nearly 90% of all drops were voluntary withdrawals. Like any selection, regiment wants the best and most capable men. Men that wont quit when things go south, and take care of their Ranger buddies. They test your mental toughness in every way possible and some guys just couldnt handle it any more. When you’re wet, cold and hungry, a hot shower and a solid meal becomes very, very tempting. I remember the Cadre would be grilling steaks at the ranges to “persuade” guys to quit. The smell alone would claim victims and send them packing.
Question: What is the one thing you wished you had trained more of?
JS: Ruck Marching. Rangers are known for their ability to ruck (hike with a loaded backpack) and take pride in it. Nothing really prepares you for rucking, except more rucking. Cardio / running was a close second. I was never a big runner, but Regiment has tried and true programs set in place to help you improve in any area that one may be weak in. The cadre push you past your limits every day during selection, there’s no real preparation for the creative pain they bring to the table. The Pre-Rasp cadre provide the knowledge and physical training to prepare you for the course. Once in, its on you to execute and perform, physically and mentally.
We like Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger as it gives a good look at what the training will be like and what you need to do to get prepared.
Question: What are the PT standards? Keys to passing RASP? What are missions like?
Answer: PT standards are 80% in all categories, regular army is 60%. 70 pushup, 70 sit ups and 1400 min 2 mile and you’re good. Obviously always try to max your PT test. Do that and your leadership will take notice. Regiment is all about standards. If you don’t maintain your PT you’re gone. RASP, right place, right time, right uniform…take care of your Ranger buddies and don’t quit. It’s that easy and that hard. Dont. Quit.
Pre RASP is there to prepare you for the course. You won’t go if the Cadre don’t think you’re ready. They’ll make sure you are though.
Missions vary. Sometimes your up for days sucking, sometimes you’re laying around all day.
Question: Whats a good goal for pull up count?
Answer: You only need 6 to pass the PT test. Hang, all the way up, all the way down, hang, repeat. Obviously always go for your max. Shoot between 15-20 for good measure.
Question: Should we be working on rope climbing?
Answer: Yes! learn the J hook technique. I’ve always been good at ropes, but I found that the j hook is easiest especially in full kit. Good question btw, ropes are a huge part of our training and PT. You’ll learn to fast rope and need to be able to stop mid slide. Climbing is part of our standard RPAT test. Don’t overthink it. Climbing ropes is all legs, just use your arms to hold on. Think of it like climbing a ladder. You’re not going to pull yourself up the ladder with your arms, You’re going to use your legs to climb up right? Same thing with a rope, with a little technique thrown in the mix.
Question: I’m enlisting this Sept as a 68w. What were a few workouts you did to prepare for rasp? Also what is the deployment schedule?
Answer: Honestly man I just went with it. I was always active, snowboarding, swimming, paintball. Was never a big runner but again, jump school and pre RASP will get you ready where you need to be. I wish I would have rucked before. Nothing preps you for rucking except rucking. There’s a few programs out there to get you on the right track, I’ll see if I can find some for you guys. Deployments come fast and hard. Ours are typically shorter than regular army (roughly 6 months) but you know when you’re going every year. Constant training cycles and prep. Being a medic you’ll be assigned to RSTB with the pre Socm guys and they’ll prep you for that. It’s a long pipeline, if you make it you’ll go off to a battalion and be doc. The boys will look to you alot so be ready for immense responsibility. Taking care of your Ranger buddies is your job.
Question: As a perspective 68w with an option 40, what was the role of the medic when not performing his medical duties? Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
Answer: The medic route is a long pipeline and taking care of the men. You’ll be the most proficient in RFR and advanced RFR (Ranger First Responder) you’ll assist if not teach those courses to all the men, about combat casualty care and techniques. It’s a very demanding and rewarding job at the same time.
Question: What is the deployment band like? Are they in need of Rangers? I am 28 years old.
Answer: Age isn’t so much a factor. I went through selection with guys in their 30’s. Keep up and you’ll be fine. Regiment always needs good Rangers.
Question: What’s the most important lesson you took away from your time in the army, specifically while in Ranger Regiment?
Answer: That’s a loaded question lol. For me I’d say it exemplified my selflessness, putting others before yourself. Going that extra step to take care of your men. Putting in longer hours, staying up later, making sure your team is taken csre of and always being the example to follow.
Being a team leader taught me the more about responsibility and accountability of others than I could ever imagined. Regiment grows their own, so to say. They build you into the leaders they demand. I’ve been out for almost a year and everything I’ve learned can directly translate into the civilian world and people take notice. It all gors back to taking care of your Ranger Buddies.
The Ranger Creed is what we live by, follow that and you’ll be golden. I still abide by it as a civilian and it works.
Question: What is life like being a cherry private in Ranger Regiment?
Answer: It sucks, Haha. Everyone is going to mess with you at some point. My first day my squad leader was telling everyone I met that I sleep with my sister. It’s just to see how you respond to being messed with. That’s how it is anywhere though. Until the next wave comes in and they turn their attention away from you to the new guys. I got lucky with my leadership, so I didn’t get it as bad as some guys. Eventually you you’ll be the one dishing it out.
Question: What are in the in-demand MOS for the regiment ? (to fight in the front line).
Answer: If you’re in regiment you’ll fight. I was a supply guy, did 2 deployments and got my CAB, along our finance guys and mechanics. Being infantry is your best bet, but all Rangers are expected to fight. That’s why we train so hard everyday. Regiment also needs other MOS’s too. So don’t limit yourself to only one option.
Question: Any info on intel guys?
Answer: My first roommate was Intel. Thats a pretty good career path They’re always playing with the new gadgets and going out on target. Their AIT is around 6 or 8 months, it’s a longer pipeline but well worth it. You’ll get a higher security clearance, which has potential for a solid job if you get out and go to the civilian sector.
Question: Can you tell us more about the swimming evolution in training?
Answer: One part of selection that is overlooked and sends alot of guys back to recycle is the swim test. It’s a pretty straight forward assessment, however if you’re not confident in the water it shows. Swimming in full uniform isn’t as graceful as it seems. It’s not a far swim at all, 15 meters at most but make sure you’re proficient at swimming before going in. Particularly side stroke.
Question: Do you keep your phone at training camp? Asking for a friend.
Answer: What do you think?
Question: What is the percent that make it through rasp?
Answer: Anywhere from 10 to 30 percent.
Question: I want to sign up for the Army and be a Ranger. How can I get in touch with a recruiter and sign up?
Answer: Go to the Army website here: