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Army Ranger / Special Forces Training Pipeline / Programming

stew smith

The training pipeline to become a member of the Airborne Infantry Units, 75th Army Ranger Regiment as an Army Ranger, or Army Special Forces are challenges that require many months or even years of preparation prior to and while serving in the Army.  You may ask, “What do you mean by pipeline?” A training pipeline is a set course you will take to go from soldier to Ranger or any other MOS in the Army.   Here is what you need to do and understand if you want to join the Army and become an Army Airborne, Army Ranger or Army Special Forces.  Maybe even Army Air Assault School...


As with any candidate seeking to become a member of the military special operations group that requires a challenging selection course, you need to be preparing your body now and do not enlist until you are ready physically and mentally.  You also need to do some more research on the process to becoming an Army Ranger as well as the training and time it takes before you are in actual Ranger Training.  But first – yes there is a program you should mention to your recruiter and make sure it part of your contract to enlist before you sign anything.

18x (xray) Special Forces Contract - There is an enlisted contract that a qualified recruit can earn prior to Basic Combat Training. After BCT, AIT, Airborne, recruits will attend Special Operations Prep Course (SOPC) then the actual Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS). Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection / SFAS has been creating Special Forces operators longer than any of the branches and are able to use the Army training pipeline to their advantage to prepare those interested in Special Forces (Green Berets).  

11x Option 40 – This is the Army Infantry with Ranger Option enlistment program you need to mention to your recruiter.  This program will guarantee you get to attend Airborne training and Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) immediately following. However, do not even talk to a recruiter until you are ready to enlist – meaning physically prepared for what you are about to endure.  You must be able to run, ruck, lift, pt on advanced levels by the time you are ready to serve.   See Ready To Serve Article.  Your training will include Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) together in a 15-week course for the 11B/C – Infantry MOS.  After OSUT – One Station Unit Training – in Fort Benning, GA, you will then go to the Basic Airborne Course (BAC). 

After BAC, you will attend RASP not Ranger School (there is a difference).   RASP is an 8-week selection course for candidates seeking to join the 75th Ranger Regiment as an Army Ranger.  Soldiers out of Basic Combat Training (Option 40 enlistment) as well as soldiers from other MOS’s are eligible to attempt this course and must pass and get selected to join the Ranger Battalion in order to wear the tan beret as an Army Ranger.  Many Rangers will also attend Ranger School, but it is not required.

Ranger School is not affiliated with the Ranger Regiment and is considered more of an elite Army Leadership Course.  It is open to members of the Army (and other branches) who will not become Rangers upon completion, BUT will be qualified to wear the Ranger Tab on their shoulder – just not the tan beret of the Army Ranger.


Physical requirements – You must meet these minimums, but do not just strive for the minimum standards, you should be well better than the following:

Pass the Ranger Fitness Test 
Push-ups 58
Sit-ups 69 
5 mile run in 40 minutes or less
Pull-ups 6

For both Ranger and Special Forces there will be a water survival assessment so knowing how to swim is required.  Take lessons if you must, but you will have to learn how to tread and move in the water with your gear / uniform which is impossible if you cannot swim.

Complete a 12-mile march with a 35-pound rucksack and weapon in less than three hours.  Learn how to run and ruck.  You need to build up your running so you can handle the strains of many miles of running and load bearing activities.  See Special Ops Running Plan.

So, just so you are clear, you will be attending RASP not Ranger School if you want to become a Ranger doing Ranger things. Otherwise, if you attend Ranger School, you will be a soldier with an Army Ranger tab doing a different MOS.

More Options: Army Special Ops Training Pipeline


Tactical Fitness or Tactical Strength training are good ways to build a foundation of all the elements of tactical fitness for candidate preparation you will need. Also the more specific Ranger / SF Training program builds you up with calisthenics, weight training, and challenging runs and rucks in order to prepare you for 5 mile runs and 12 mile rucks, log PT, pullups, pushups, situps, and more.  You should also consider the Army Ranger Flash Cards, there is a lot of information you are learn while you wait to attend schools – see

Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

Tactical Fitness - At the core of this program is the Tactical Fitness Test which measures 12 standards for your physical capacity, including: cardiovascular conditioning, strength, muscle coordination, and stamina. Tactical fitness means having the skills needed to save lives and extend the limits of your endurance whether you are in the military, police, firefighting professions, or just an everyday hero. Also featured in the Tactical Fitness Test called the Dirty Dozen.

Tactical Strength - Tactical Strength is the lifting program used by Stew Smith and his Military, Police, Fire Fighter fitness program called the Heroes of Tomorrow. It is designed to build strength in the upper body, legs, and core to prepare you better for any load bearing activity (rucking, boat carry, log PT, etc). The program also does not neglect cardiovascular activity and will end workouts with rucking or swimming (or other non impact options (row, bike, elliptical) if needed. The cardio workouts will be quick and fast focusing more on speed and agility than long slow distance. We also use the Tactical Strength Test to test elements of speed, agility, and strength / power.

Tactical Mobility is a comprehensive fitness guide for greater mobility, flexibility, and performance—designed for the men and women serving in military, special ops, law enforcement, emergency services. Tactical Mobility is a perfect fit for any fitness program as a stand alone "Mobility day" supplemented into your regular routine and will help you reach the pain free level of fitness. Gaining flexibility and mobility is the goal of the program and it will help with performance and help reduce injuries.

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as personalized training programs member's only program and the new :

Questions?  Just email me at

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  • Anthony on

    I want to be a army ranger.
    I always wanted to be a ranger.

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