But Sarge, will this look good on my resume?
April 10, 2006 5:08 PM   Subscribe

What sort of actual skills does one learn in Army Ranger school, SERE school, or USMC Basic Recon school? I see and hear a lot about mental conditioning, but little about what else this sort of training covers.

I'm asking out of interest as a writer. I spent four years in the Coast Guard, and I was really surprised at what was and wasn't covered in my own training. Given my own experiences, I'd rather not make assumptions about how other services train. I've talked to one person who's been through Ranger school, and he told me that it was mainly an exercise in starvation and sleep deprivation with a little bit of knot-tying and map-reading thrown in. Anyone have a different take on it?
posted by scaryblackdeath to Law & Government (10 answers total)
They do a 100 mile trek on foot before they get the patch.

That's hard core!
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 5:56 PM on April 10, 2006

I'm sure I only saw a small picture of it when I went to the Ranger school graduation demonstration at Fort Benning a couple of years ago, but they did the following:

* Helicopter insertion & extraction
* Rapelling (including the cool as heck Australian rapel)
* Amphibious assault
* Hand-to-hand combat
* Stuff with plastic explosives (shaping charges, etc)

The graduation is a very scripted affair, repeated pretty much verbatim by every class, so it's heavy on showmanship. A fun way to impress the families of the soldiers, and obviously doesn't include any of the "bad" stuff.

I saw a pretty good series on SEAL training on the military channel last year. Looked to focus heavily on teamwork, sleep deprivation, SCUBA skills, and conditioning. And, lots of shivering.
posted by i love cheese at 5:59 PM on April 10, 2006

Uh, plenty of books have been written about Recon and Ranger training. Have you checked your library?

Ranger and Recon schools aren't intended to teach you anything in particular. They are intended to make sure that whatever reason you may fail in future military endeavors, it won't be because you ran up against physical limits and decided to quit. They are intended to completely reset your concept of the word "miserable" so that all future miseries become much more bearable. They may do things during the school, but the things done are mainly an excuse for making the students miserable. Real teaching of actual skills occurs afterwards, in the regular day-to-day grind.

SERE training is straight out of Rambo or Guantanamo Bay. You are given basic instruction in living off the land and resisting interrogation. You are set loose in the wilderness. The instructors at the school then try to find you. They do. You are then caged, in a cage where you can't stand up nor sit down nor stretch out your legs. You are then interrogated. The interrogations are straight out of Gitmo, such as waterboarding: being stripped to your underwear in freezing weather, strapped to an inclined board with your head below your feet, a t-shirt held tightly over your entire face, and water poured onto the t-shirt. Ever thought you might drown? Was it pleasant? 100% of students will tell their captors anything they want to know in 1-2 minutes. Best of all, it doesn't leave any marks.

Again, the purpose is to reset your definition of misery to a new, lower, level.
posted by jellicle at 6:07 PM on April 10, 2006

This New Yorker piece gives some detail on how SERE prepares soldiers to undergo torture. And, perhaps (?) inadvertently, how to deliver torture.
posted by Miko at 6:51 PM on April 10, 2006

Thanks for that link, Miko. Fascinating article.
posted by gokart4xmas at 8:36 PM on April 10, 2006

The Discovery Channel had a series on Seal training.
posted by 445supermag at 8:50 PM on April 10, 2006

I cant talk to SERE or Recon, but ranger school is designed to teach small unit infantry tactics, with an emphasis on stressing the students to prepare them for the rigors of actual combat. Its kind of a rite of passage for infantry officers in the army, as well as enlisted men who are assigned to a ranger battalion. There is a great deal of information at the Ranger Training Brigade's website, especially the parts about the various phases of training (Benning, Mountain, Florida)
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 4:25 AM on April 11, 2006

Did you look at the wikipedia entry at all? There are even links to the services information pages - Army, Navy and Air Force.
posted by longbaugh at 4:36 AM on April 11, 2006

By "actual" do you mean tangible, demonstratable skills? There are always the intangibles: leadership, creative thinking, task under stress, etc.

I was not any of these but when I left the service they had some pretty creative people helping to write my resume. Although most of my skills transferred directly they found a few ways to beef up my resume using stuff like this.
posted by m@ at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2006

m@: Yeah, I mean the relatively tangible stuff. I know the emphasis is really on the intangibles like leadership and mental endurance, but what I'd like to know more about are the demonstrable skills like first aid, boating, etc. Do they really spend much time on, say, hand-to-hand combat? Or is that a movie myth?

I have indeed looked through my local library and wikipedia. I asked Metafilter to see if I'd get differing or more enlightening answers.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:00 AM on April 11, 2006

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