Ranger School’s Value for SEAL Teams

Ranger School, as shared by Ranger School graduate and former Navy SEAL Jonathan Gilliam, holds immense value for SEAL teams when it comes to leadership development. Gilliam expressed that he gained more insight into leadership during his time at Ranger School than he did in BUD/S or Officer Candidate School. These sentiments highlight the significance of this US Army training program.

Inter-Service Participation and Trust Building

While many associate Rangers with the Army, it is worth noting that Ranger School also welcomes participants from the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. For SEALs, JTACs, and Force Recon members, attending Ranger School provides not only valuable tactical training but also fosters inter-service trust among special operations forces from different branches.

A soldier in the water with his weapon

Understanding Ranger School vs. the Ranger Regiment

It’s crucial to distinguish between Ranger School and the Ranger Regiment. Ranger School is a 62-day course that focuses on leadership and small-unit tactics. Divided into three phases—Darby, Mountains, and Florida—students engage in squad- and platoon-level patrols, receiving evaluations from Ranger instructors when selected for leadership positions. Gilliam had a vision in college, with becoming a Navy SEAL as his primary goal. Attending Ranger School was also on his list because he had heard that it was the epitome of leadership training.

Gilliam’s Experience at Ranger School

After completing BUD/S, Gilliam underwent airborne school at Fort Benning before moving on to SEAL Tactical Training (now known as SEAL Qualification Training). He then spent three months in Panama as an ensign, receiving on-the-job training with a SEAL platoon. When his commanding officer, Pete Van Hooser, suggested that he attend Ranger School before pursuing his trident, Gilliam eagerly embraced the opportunity.

Leveraging Prior SEAL Training

Gilliam’s previous SEAL training prepared him well for the intense environment of Ranger School. The yelling, screaming, and negative spot reports didn’t faze him, allowing him to absorb the instructors’ teachings more efficiently than some of his peers. Additionally, the experience taught him valuable lessons about collaborating with the Army, enabling him to establish effective working relationships with Army soldiers through shared experiences.

Gilliam’s Unique Perspectives and Humorous Moments

While Ranger School didn’t overwhelm Gilliam due to his previous training as a frogman, he did face challenges, particularly with his feet, which were already battered from BUD/S. Recounting a lighthearted incident, Gilliam humorously recalled sleeping naked in a patrol base to dry his uniform. However, a vigilant Ranger instructor caught someone sleeping on guard duty, resulting in an impromptu pushup session for everyone. During this unexpected exercise, the instructor noticed Gilliam in the front leaning rest position in his birthday suit, prompting a humorous outcry.