As the person who spends the most time with Zac, I am completely aware that when he explains his military career to his friends and family, he is usually not as informative as we all hoped he’d be. He loves to use words and acronyms that no one ever understands, so a lot of people he has talked to still have NO idea what Ranger School even is. As a result of this, I have had several people ask me all kinds of questions so I am going to do my best to explain Ranger School as I understand it, in the simplest terms I can, and hopefully answer any questions you may have!
RTAC (or Ranger Training Assessment Course)
Before I get into explaining Ranger, I will answer the questions I got about where Zac was the past two weeks.
RTAC, which is often referred to as “Pre-Ranger School” is a two week training that is designed to prepare students for Ranger School. It is split into two week-long phases. The first phase involves a series of “tests” that will show how prepared the student is for Ranger School. Some (but not all) of these “tests” include a physical fitness test, land navigation, and obstacle course.
Once a student passes the first week, they move onto the second week. They must pass the phase one events to move onto the second week. From what Zac told me, the second week was much more laid back and geared toward teaching them techniques for success during Ranger School.
Alright, now for the fun stuff. A lot of people’s first question for me is “How long will be gone?” This is such a hard question to answer. To understand why, you first have to understand how his time is broken up. Ranger School has three main phases: Darby or Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Swamp Phase. Before he enters any of these phases he first has to get through RAP week or Ranger Assessment Phase.
The first week of Ranger School, Days 1-4, are called RAP Week. (Note: Zac is currently on Day 0, which is mostly In-Processing) This first week is one of the hardest parts of Ranger School as 57% of total failures happen during RAP Week and 28% of all Soldiers fail a RAP week event. RAP week events include a fitness test, land navigation and a 12 mile Foot march.
Darby phase is 20 days long and involves a lot of ambush and recon training. This training is conducted in and around Camp Rogers and Camp Darby in Fort Benning.
Mountain Phase is 21 days long and will teach students military mountaineering techniques. This basically means they are being prepared for combat on mountains. This phase is conducted in Camp Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia.
Swamp Phase (or Florida Phase)
Swamp Phase is designed to teach students how to survive and operate in a rainforest/swamp environment. This phase is conducted in Florida (which is why it is sometimes referred to as Florida Phase)
So, how long will he be there?
In a perfect world, he would get through all three phases in one try and he would be gone for about 2 months. But the reality of it is simple: Ranger School is hard. Not everyone passes everything. If they did, being a Ranger wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. So here’s the break down.
If Zac gets through RAP Week, he is golden. RAP Week is basically make it or break it time. If you don’t pass, you’re finished.
Once he makes it to Darby he can be what is called “recycled”. This just means he would start back over at day one of that phase. So say he didn’t pass something he needed to pass in Darby, (or Mountains, or Swamp) they would send him back to Day 1 of that phase and he would try again.
That is why I can’t give anyone an answer on when he will be back. We have our fingers crossed that he will be one of the students graduating Aug 21st, but it is just too soon to know that.
So hopefully I have answered everyone’s questions! If not feel free to message me and I will do my best to answer them! Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Contact me if you would like to write him letters!