A 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier from Fort Drum, New York, instructs Pre-Ranger Course candidates at Fort Polk, Louisiana. (U.S. Army Photo)
Pre-Ranger Course pushes Soldiers beyond limits
Sgt. Ashley M. Morris
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
FORT POLK, La. (Feb. 6, 2019) — Last week marked the beginning of the 10th Mountain Division Light Fighters School Pre-Ranger Course hosted by 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) at Fort Polk. Forty-two Soldiers from across the installation reported to Honor Field for the first day of the course to begin initial assessments Feb. 5.
The Pre-Ranger Course is a prerequisite for those who want to attend Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. A mobile training team from 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, is visiting Fort Polk to teach the course.
The first assessment of the day was the PRC physical fitness test, which included pushups, sit-ups, a five-mile run and pullups. Then the physical and mental resolve of the remaining 26 Soldiers were tested as they continued to the next challenge — a comprehensive swim assessment.
The Soldiers were instructed to complete a series of exercises in between events during the swim assessment. The exercises were meant to push the Soldiers, mentally and physically, to see how they perform under pressure.
“Every day down at the line and in the units, these Soldiers are not being pushed to the limits and beyond to see how they can perform,” said Staff Sgt. Dino Rosas, PRC noncommissioned officer in charge. “We want to see how these Soldiers act when they are pushed past their limits.”
During the swim assessment, Soldiers had to complete two tasks: Tread water for two minutes, and remove their fighting load underwater and then swim to the other end of the pool. The assessment helps the instructors determine whether or not a Soldier is a strong enough swimmer to attend Ranger School.
Spc. Alden Mayotte, an infantryman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, who also earned the Expert Infantryman Badge in October, said that before attending this course he had been conducting weekly intensive training with his platoon and on his own to prepare him for the course.
“Army Rangers are an elite group of people, and to join them you have to go through some pretty hard challenges,” Mayotte said. “To be part of that elite club would be a pretty high honor.”
Over the next two weeks, PRC candidates will be tested on various advanced Soldier tasks that they must successfully execute to graduate the course. Although Soldiers are given two tries for some, certain tasks have to be performed correctly the first time.
As challenging as the course can be for Soldiers wanting to attend Ranger School, Rosas said seeing Soldiers succeed is his favorite part of the course.
“I love — absolutely love — building Rangers,” Rosas said. “Not only am I helping the Army by sending back dudes that are working at 80 percent of their potential versus leaders that are working currently at 60 percent of their potential, but it’s combat multiplier. They go back to their units and help Soldiers push past their limits more than a normal leader would.”
Graduation for the Pre-Ranger Course is set to take place Feb. 20 at the Bayou Theater.