Welcome to SURT, Small Unit Ranger Tactics program. SURT is a progressive physical and tactical preparation program designed to prepare soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division — the Tropic Lightning — to be successful during the Army Ranger Assessment Phase and Darby Phase of Ranger School. SURT is offered at the Lightning Academy, located at Schofield Barracks East Range, Hawaii.
Active duty Army Rangers serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite airborne light infantry combat group that falls under the United States Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC. The Regiment is broken down into six battalions. These battalions have been deployed in every major military action since the Korean War, including Panama and Grenada.
The SURT program was instituted about 10 years ago and changed the way regular infantry soldiers become Army Rangers. Before SURT, soldiers would pass through selection and be sent to the 75th Ranger Regiment. Once there, they would fall into their battalions and might even go on several deployments without completing Ranger School, the elite training program that certifies them as Rangers and grants them the coveted Ranger tab.
Now, in order to be selected, candidates first go to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, or RASP 1; they then head to SURT. Once completed, they are sent directly to Ranger School to earn their tabs. Only then can they go to the Regiment.
“We want the best guys in the [75th] Ranger Regiment,” said Sergeant First Class Tyson Crosby, who was NCOIC of RASP 1. “The longer we have to assess and select them and make sure they’re performing, the better… That’s the reason we changed it, so we continue to select the best guys for service in the Ranger Regiment.”
“When it comes down to it, one really good guy or great guy is better than three average ones.”
SFC Crosby said that the adjustments were made to give the regiment more time to scrutinize prospective unit members. Under the previous program, only the top five percent of graduates were sent to Ranger School, as selected by the cadre.
The U.S. Army reports that “the Regiment must send 550 to 600 Soldiers through RASP 1 each year to generate enough Skill Level I Rangers to meet operational demands — based on historical loss-and-retention trends, according to data provided by the unit.”
The Ranger Regiment traces its lineage to three battalions raised in World War II, and to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), also known as “Merrill’s Marauders.” The unit was later re-designated as the 475th Infantry and finally as the 75th.
This article was originally published in January 2021.