Yeah, a lot of that going around apparently.  According to Ft. Benning’s newspaper, The Bayonet, Ranger School is struggling to fill its openings for Army Sergeants.  This is surprising, as Ranger School was essentially established to train Army NCOs in infantry tactics and leadership before sending them back to mother Army.  In this way, their new skill sets would diffuse amongst soldiers throughout the entire military.

The Bayonet is now reporting that Ranger School is experiencing a deficit of over 80% for the number of NCO’s who should be attending, a number that is only expected to grow.

Ranger School is regarded by many to be the Army’s toughest training course.  “Not for the Weak or Fainthearted”, as the sign says as you approach Camp Darby at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  Wearing the gold and black Ranger Tab on your uniform is a point of pride, an indication that you met the Ranger standard, leading patrols through mangrove swamps in Florida and the Appalachian mountains in Dahlonega, Georgia.  All patrols must receive a passing grade while under the diligent supervision of Ranger Instructors, or RI’s.

So why doesn’t anyone want to go to Ranger School?

For one, 10+ years of war have taken their toll.  If you were a young Sergeant who just got back from a year long deployment (almost certainly not your first), how would you go about explaining to your equally young wife and children that you are going to disappear for another two months to attend a school that they could care less about?  The training might be important, but that doesn’t make it any easier on a family that hasn’t seen you for 12 months.

Many Sergeants have now experienced war up close and personal.  Why do they need to go to a notoriously difficult and challenging training course between actual combat deployments to receive “combat” training?  I know that Ranger School has taken steps to keep up with the times and conduct training that is current and relevant to the modern battlefield (and I believe it is, as I will get to in a moment), but I wonder how many Sergeants are slapping a combat patch on their right shoulder and calling it a day?

Also, I think that quotas really disenfranchise soldiers and turn them off to what is otherwise invaluable training.  I know, I know, Ranger School doesn’t have quotas.  Okay, now let’s be real.  There are quotas.  Everyone knows that if you end up in the back of the line during the PT test the first day that you are toast.  The RI’s have filled their quota and are looking to cut the guys towards the back of the line.  I remember when I had my PT test and the RI stood there looking down at me counting my pushups, “Zero, zero, zero, zero, one, zero, zero, zero, two, zero…”  I had to do something like a hundred push ups when the standard was actually fifty.  No use in complaining about it of course.  Man up and get it done, but I think that Sergeants who hear these stories from their peers (and they do) get turned off to Ranger School.