When comparing myself to other men in Ranger Battalion, I never labelled myself as the strongest or the fastest. I was and am an endurance-minded individual. I have always enjoyed running, but thanks to the men in Batt, I was able to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the physically well rounded soldier. One of the many aspects that makes Ranger Battalion and the rest of SOF unique is the variety of fitness abilities.

I am not saying there are not other units throughout the military that don’t have similar physical qualities. There are the obvious outliers in every unit; individuals who can run considerably faster or lift considerably more than the next man. The difference is that the slowest runner in Ranger Battalion would still finish over a minute faster in the 2 mile run than an average male in the Army.

When you are raised in Batt, you are not allowed to be slow. To even be considered for a slot to Pre-Ranger you had to score at-least a 90/100 in every event, but you really needed to be scoring much higher to guarantee that your squad leader picked you to go to the ‘happiest place on earth.’

When it was time to do PT in the morning, there wasn’t any of that big-Army junk like the ‘bend and reach.’ Due to the nature of the unit, PT was conducted in a squad size or smaller element. By having smaller elements physically training together, there was the advantage to increase the amount of work done in the 1.5 hour time period designated to physical training. Men were able to specialize in certain aspects of fitness, but always did enough to uphold the standard. There were always days that were set aside for road-marching and long runs, but the men were still able to break off and work on other aspects of fitness.

I remember my friend Donny, a man who could bust out over 130 pushups, over 90 sit-ups, run two miles in 13:00 minutes and still squat, deadlift, and bench over double his bodyweight. Donny had the right mentality: be prepared to physically crush anything that comes in my path.

The 75th has and will continue to breed all varieties of physically gifted athletes. There are the small groups of men that enjoy running so much that they spend their weekends running ultramarathons, typically 50-100 miles in one stint. There are others that focus on picking up and putting down heavy things,pushing around weights in excess of 400 pounds. Whatever physical craft these men chose, they are always prepared for any mission on any terrain.

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An offset infil is one in which the assaulting element is dropped off out of sight and sound of the enemies location. There were many helo missions under the cover of darkness where we would end up walking multiple kilometers over muddy farm fields to reach our objective. That mud that sticks to the bottom of your boots, turns someone who is 5’9″ into a 6 foot tall heavy footed killing machine. These movements were performed at a blistering pace that would elevate your heart-rate well above 130 bpm.

There have been rescue missions performed in Afghanistan where men scaled cliffs and had the taste of iron on their tongue at 12,000 ft. There was never the option of quitting. They knew that if they physically couldn’t cut it, men would die and missions would fail. From the first day in Ranger Battalion it is ingrained in your mind that you must be physically superior to your enemy.

When you first arrive in Battalion you are driven to excel physically out of fear of your team-leader and the will to prove yourself. After you had sweat and fought next to some of the greatest men the armed forces have ever known, you are driven physically for each other.

This article previously published by SOFREP 04.24.13  written by Isaiah Burkhart