May 17, 2012

Fort Irwin Soldiers take on Pre-Ranger Course

Story and photos by Sgt. Anthony J. Lecours

1st Sgt Michael J. Spear, K Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and course instructor of a 11th ACR’s Pre- Ranger Course, crawls under a series of crossed trip wires to show troopers how to navigate the obstacle at Fort Irwin May 8.

All the way through a Ranger Physical Fitness Test, an obstacle course, and a12- mile ruck march, the instructors of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s Pre-Ranger Course gave the cadets 110 percent of their attention to help them pass the course May 7-11.

The course gave Ranger-qualified officers and noncommissioned officers the chance to share their knowledge with troopers who wish to earn their Ranger Tab. The instructors worked alongside the troopers during the course, providing encouragement and leadership.

“It’s important that the troopers see us doing the challenges alongside them,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Wood, K troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR and course instructor. “It shows them that it can be accomplished.”

1st Sgt. Michael J. Spear, a course instructor and first sergeant of K Troop, 2nd squadron, 11th ACR, ran the course as a physical assessment for the initial three days of Ranger School. The course also included a Combat Water Survival Course Test and land navigation test.

“We see about a 60 percent attrition rate,” said Spear.  “The troopers need to learn when to push through the discomfort.  It’s the difference between being hurt and being injured.”

The course has been operating for more than a year and has helped six troopers graduate from the Army’s Ranger School. Two troopers from the 11 ACR are currently in Ranger School.

“I look up to a lot of the instructors,” said Pfc. Ezra J. Ward of K Troop. “They have taught me a ton of little things, like how to pack your ruck or overcome an obstacle.  It’s really encouraging to watch the instructors do the challenges right beside us.”

If you are Ranger hopeful, do two-a-day exercise sessions, recommended Spear. Extended runs and road marches are where they see most of the dropouts.

“It’s all about heart,” said Ward. “If you want to be a Ranger, you’ve got to have the intestinal fortitude to run the course.”

More than 40 of the 51 troopers that started the course were cut before the fourth day of events.

“You want to cut them slack,” said Wood. “But we can’t, our job is to get as many troopers as we can tabbed because a lot of doors open up for Ranger-qualified troopers.”

Troopers from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment climb upside down during an obstacle course at Fort Irwin May 8. The obstacle course was one of several challenges the Troopers faced during the 11th ACR’s Pre-Ranger Course.

Troopers from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment conduct a 12-mile ruck march as part of the 11th ACR’s Pre-Ranger Course at Fort Irwin May 9. The course is designed to test and train Troopers for the initial phase of the Army Ranger School.

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