Physical training (PT) within the Special Operations Forces (SOF) has undergone a significant shift in recent years. While the traditional emphasis on relentless running and ruck marching is still valuable for building a base, it has given way to a more functional approach. This shift is evident in units like the 75th Ranger Regiment and individual Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha (ODAs).

The focus has now shifted towards building combat-relevant strength and endurance. This philosophy acknowledges that a soldier’s fitness needs to be directly applicable to the demands of the battlefield.

A prime example of this change can be seen in the 75th Ranger Regiment. A former Regimental Sergeant Major with extensive Delta Force experience played a pivotal role in modernizing Ranger PT. He recognized that while marathon running, jiu-jitsu expertise, and bodybuilding have their merits, a Ranger’s fitness should be laser-focused on combat effectiveness.

This shift in philosophy likely explains the creation of the Ranger Physical Assessment Test (RPAT), known for its grueling intensity – a testament to the new emphasis on combat-ready fitness.

The RPAT: Gauging Combat Readiness

As mentioned, the RPAT is a grueling fitness assessment designed to measure a Ranger’s overall combat preparedness. It evaluates all key aspects of physical fitness – strength, endurance, and movement skills – through a series of challenging, tactically relevant tasks.

The Challenge:

Terrain: 3-mile course with obstacles

Gear: Rifle (RBA), helmet (MICH), litter (SKEDCO with 160-lb load), fast rope apparatus (20-ft), caving ladder apparatus (20-ft), and an 8-ft wall

Objective: Complete a 3-mile run followed by an obstacle course within 1 hour. This is a squad-level event, but each Ranger competes against their own personal best, striving for continuous improvement in time and execution.

The Breakdown (old version):

  1. 2-mile run in full gear (ACUs, boots, RBA, MICH helmet), starting and ending at a fast rope.
  2. Ascend and descend the 20-foot fast rope with control.
  3. Immediately drag the 160-pound SKEDCO litter for 100 yards (round trip).
  4. Climb the 20-foot caving ladder and descend.
  5. Sprint 200 yards (round trip), followed by scaling the 8-foot wall.
  6. Conclude with a 1-mile run in full gear, finishing at the 8-foot wall.

What’s New in RPA 2.0?

2024 Update: With the military constantly evolving, the Ranger School is exploring a potential update with the RPAT, aka the RPA 2.0. This proposed assessment, currently under testing as of late 2023 (and will likely continue throughout 2024), reflects broader trends in tactical fitness across the special operations community.

The proposed RPA 2.0 departs from the obstacle course format of the original RPAT. Instead, it focuses on a series of discrete exercises designed to assess core fitness components crucial for modern combat scenarios, with a proposed passing standard for RPA 2.0 of a total time under 27 minutes for all exercises. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. One-mile run: Measures baseline cardiovascular endurance.
  2. Six chin-ups: Evaluate upper body strength and pulling power.
  3. 100-meter kettlebell carry (fast): Assesses explosive power and grip strength.
  4. 100-meter individual movement techniques (IMT): Combines short sprints with prone positions, testing agility and battlefield adaptability.
  5. 100-meter SKEDCO drag (185 pounds): Measures lower body strength and casualty evacuation capabilities.
  6. Two-mile run: A final test of cardiovascular endurance after a series of demanding exercises.

In Summary: The Ranger Physical Assessment Test pushes Rangers to their limits, mimicking the physical demands of real-world combat scenarios.

This article has been reviewed and updated by the SOFREP News Team.