Sunday, August 01, 2004

For Birdie...

(Taken from the Ranger School Homepage)

The Ranger course is 61 days in length with an average of 19.6 hours of training each day, seven days a week. It is divided into THREE phases of training with each phase being conducted at a different geographical location. The first (Benning Phase), 20 days in length, is conducted by the 4th Battalion, Ranger Training Brigade (RTB) at Fort Benning, Georgia. the second (Mountain Phase), 21 days in length, is conducted by the 5th Battalion, RTB at Camp Frank D. Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia. The third (Florida Phase), 18 days in length, is conducted by the 6th Battalion, RTB at Camp James E. Rudder at Eglin AFB, Florida. Two days of the course are consumed by travel, maintenance, in/out processing and graduation. Rangers are assigned to one of the three Ranger training companies of the 4th Battalion upon arrival at Fort Benning and are trained by that unit's cadre utilizing small group instruction techniques throughout the phase. Upon rotating through the other phases, the same procedures are followed.

(My own version)


The coveted Drill Sergeant Badge is awarded after a tour of duty 1095 days in length, with an average of 16 hours of training each day. The tour is never shorter, sometimes longer depending on what time of day you signed in, who you pissed off during your stay, whether some clerk processing your paperwork had a hot date that Friday, etc.

It is divided into three phases of attitude, with each phase being ridiculed by fellow Drill Sergeants in the next consecutive phase. The first phase is comprised of feelings of toughness, meanness, orneriness, coolness, and general badassiness. This phase ends approximately three days after Drill Sergeant School. The second phase is characterized by feelings of resignation, professionalism, duty, perseverance, pride and general fatigue. This phase lasts anywhere from 30 to 365 days depending on coworkers, privates, and how kick-ass your spouse is. The third phase is comprised largely of pain and hopelessness. It’s called "the trail" for a reason. The motherfricker never ends. The light at the end of the tunnel is, in actuality, the red beacon of your much-abused alarm clock… going off at 0330 for the twentieth day in a row. The tunnel was part of the dream you crammed in between falling sleep with a plate of food on your lap at 2300, your spouse driving you up the stairs like a bewildered, ornery steer at 0100, and waking up at 0145 for a drink. You will wake up, regardless of how tired you are, because after forcing water down your soldiers throats all day, you came home as dehydrated as a piece of jerky on a plate full of talcum powder. There is no tunnel. There is no light. There are only the Privates and the knowledge that if you fail, they will go into combat unprepared. So roll the F* out of bed, take your 10 minute shower, scrape the stubble from your sunburned face, and search fruitlessly for the biggest coffee cup you can find before finally settling for two regular size (16 oz) travel mugs. (No joke, I actually do this)

Two days of the tour of duty will be spent preparing your records for the SFC board. This will consist of falling asleep in the waiting room at Records (with no shame whatsoever) for about three hours, and then scribbling your signature at the bottom of an indecipherable bunch of nonsense that some civilian worker assures you is correct. Then you will take your sorry ass out to the range and train privates for another 12 hours. The next day will be spent frantically trying to figure out where you dropped all the pieces of your Class A uniform after the last Graduation ceremony, and rushing to TASC to take your DA Photo. When you arrive you will remember the three random pieces you forgot and borrow them from some other bleary eyed Drill Sergeant in the same boat as you. Then you will take your sorry ass to the range to spend the next 14 hours training Joe.

Drill Sergeants will be assigned to a BCT unit upon graduation from Drill Sergeant School, with the assurance that after 1-2 years they can apply for one of the less hellish jobs at FTC (fat camp), G/1-28 (transitional and motivational unit), Drill Sergeant School, or BRM team. Then, once you have signed in, you will discover that the newest policy assigns the class that graduates after you to all the easy jobs without ever spending a day in BCT, and BRM team ceased to exist several years ago.

The coup de grace will be administered to your pride when you start seeing PFCs that you trained a year earlier, proudly wearing their combat patches as they wave you through the gate to begin Groundhog Day all over again.



I know I haven’t answered any questions lately, but I do read each one and appreciate them all. Your comments and questions keep me motivated sometimes when things get busy, so keep em coming. Anyway, here goes. I know some of these were asked a while ago, so hopefully the readers are still hanging around or dropping in from time to time.

So as a drill sgt...honestly do you people scream all the time in boot? are you ever nice? im planning to join the army....just wondering..if drill sgts are as scary as the movies...

I think I am a nice guy lol. On the other hand, apparently (I found out the other day) the whole company is really frightened of me. That’s not the effect I was looking for, but I guess they just know I mean business and don’t tolerate any BS. I don’t feel scary, but my soldiers I guess would tell you something else. I am a professional and I enforce the standards. My two basic duties are accomplishing the mission and taking care of soldiers. If accomplishing the mission means that I have to be hard at times, I will do that. Taking care of soldiers means giving them what they need, not what they want. It’s more important that my soldiers are well trained and highly disciplined than that they like me. With that said, by the end of Basic Training, I do feel like most or all of them know that I have their best interests at heart.

Are you a Ranger? What do you think about getting a 6.8SPC XM8 rifle?

Nope. Not tabbed. I should probably get that way, but at this point in my career it would basically just be for the advantage in promotions. I’m pretty excited to be getting an XM8 some day, but right now I just would like to have ANY weapon of my very own assigned to me. Even when we do our own qualification, we just grab a weapon from some private and shoot.

Are you a ds at ft.jackson? My fiancee is training there and hates it. Some kid died there last week, too. Good times (I'm rolling my eyes, can you tell?)......

Yes, I am a DS at Ft Jackson. If he is almost done and still hates it, he is probably struggling in some area. Either PT or Discipline most likely, I hope he is not in my unit if that is the case. Yes, a soldier did die last week here in BCT. He was doing the final road march back from Victory Forge and died of a heat stroke. From all accounts he was an excellent soldier and loved what he was doing. Unfortunately, it is often the best soldiers who will push their bodies past the limit without ever complaining or telling their Drill Sergeants. We are always vigilant regarding hydration and monitoring soldiers who may have some preconditions for injuries or illness, but it does happen from time to time. All I can say without knowing the full story is that of the roughly 20,000 soldiers we train each year, a few will inevitably be injured or fall ill. On rare occasions, (probably 1-2 a year on average) they die. In no way would I ever say that this is acceptable, but if you look at 20,000 randomly selected 18-21 year olds from across the nation for a years time, I have to think that this might be the absolute safest place you could possibly be. (The question came from a reader who seems to be very anti-military if you read her blog)

Hi. I'm 15 and interested in the military. I had a few questions about it. (like how hard basic training is, what the requirements for number of pushups, running time, and other stuff like that are.) If you get a chance, could you possibly leave a comment for me? Thanx.God Bless.Mike

If it’s done right, it’s very hard, but completely "do-able". For a 17-21 year old male, you must do 35 pushups, 47 situps and run your 2 mile in around 16:30 or so to graduate from BCT. Then it gets a little harder before you graduate from AIT, but not too much. (For females, it is 13 pushups, 47 situps, and somewhere around 19:30 for the run.)

Do males and female train together?

Yep… the best soldier in my platoon right now, by far, is a female. Platoon Guide, "Expert" qualification in BRM, highest score so far on the APFT, perfect discipline, good leader and good follower.

Greetings, My name is PV2 W. I am in the Florida National Guard. I will be shipping out to basic training in Fort Jackson in November. I know you answered the questions of the fifteen year old, but I had some questions being that I am eighteen. To be honest with you, I am exactly what you spoke of. The eighteen year old kid who was the computer nerd instead of an athlete. I played guitar instead of baseball. I haven't been completely inactive though. I was in Army JROTC for two years, that's why I am an E2 now before basic and I'm very active in military style paintball. I would just like some advice on how to prepare and get in shape. I know the times I need to do my best for the runs and the numbers I need in push-ups and sit-ups, but how should I improve these. My worst spot is push-ups. I've begun running two miles almost every day now. I have about three months before I leave, what would you suggest I do to get ready? I know you are very busy, but I could really use the help. Thank you for your time.

I am glad that you are taking your enlistment seriously and want to be ready when you show up. I have answered the question about pushups at least twice though lol. I will try to figure out how to link to my own posts but for now all I can tell you is to go back through my archives until you find the "pushups" post. I have also posted about running and maybe situps as well.

Drill Sergeant Rob, I found your site this morning, and I think you may be able to help me out. In late September, 2003 the USO sponsored the "Drew Carey Comedy Tour" in Iraq. One of the comedians on that tour, Jeff Ross, is creating a documentary about his experiences there. One thing is still missing to make this film complete, video footage of these four concerts shot by the soldiers. We are looking for footage shot by soldiers on their own camcorders of the performance. We're mostly looking for performance stuff -- on stage of all the comedians. A significant licensing fee will be paid if we use the footage in the film. We are not looking for still photographs. These are the dates and locations of the performances: SEPT. 26-30 -BAGHDAD CONVENTION CENTER -BAGHDAD INT'L AIRPORT (1ST INFANTRY DIVISION) -AL ASAD AIR BASE (3RD ARMORED CAVALRY) 82 AIRBORNE -TIKRIT -- 4TH INFANTRY (IRONHORSE) If you could please pass the word on to any fellow soldiers who may have shot video, or who knows of anyone who did, we would greatly appreciate it. Please note that this film is non-partisan, and will focus on the troops and the comedians. If any soldiers have film footage they wish to submit, please have them email Jeff Ross directly at Thank you for you assistance and for your service. Stay Safe, Josh Goldfarb + Jeff Ross Here is a complete list of troops and camps visited by the tour. Coalition Provisional Authority Combined Joint Task Force-7 Camp Slayer Iraqi Survey Group 455th Chemical Brigade Camp Dogwood Camp Anderson Camp Muleskinner Victory Corps 3rd Cavalry (Red Rifles) 4ID Second Brigade Combat Team (Warhorse) 4ID Ironhorse 7 Longknife Squadron (Brave Rifles) 325th A.I.R. Falcon Brigade US 2nd Dragoons 1AD 123D Support Battallion (Old Ironsides) 1AD Bulldog Brigade (Iron Soldiers) 1AD Ready First Combat Team (Old Ironsides) 1AD OIF Baghdad (Old Ironsides) 2AD ACR Regimental Support Squadron

I’m not sure how many active duty soldiers read my site, deployed or otherwise, but if they do they now have the information they need. They can make their own decision as to whether or not to respond.

Hey MilBloggers, I've got a non-political a question: what the heck are the "President's 100" and how does someone gain that accolade? Last drill, a bunch of us paper pushers got taken over to the state of the art Weaponeer range they run at Fort Lewis; terrific virtual reality setup they have, especially when I was expecting the combo pinball/skee-ball table thingy we trained with at Fort Jackson. Anyway, the fellow running the range was a terrific retiree named Gavino E., who said he used to be a 1SG on the President's 100. Now, I have seen the crest for this group on my foldout Army uniform guide, but have never understood what it's all about. I assume this is a "best of the best of the best" kind of thing? E. says he gets a personally written card from the sitting President. Every Christmas. Regardless of who is in office. During Desert Shield, his commander almost pissed himself when a card from Bush 41 showed up, telling E. to hang tough and, "take care of the guys for me." Pardon my ignorance. I've only been in 2 years, and am a REMF at that. Hooah to all! --Brad T., PFC, xxxxd GSU, USAR

All I really knew about this before I received the question was that it was awarded for excellence in a high level marksmanship competition. I have seen it worn only once. I do know that it cannot be worn in conjunction with the Ranger and Special Forces tabs, so it’s possible that some soldiers may elect to wear them instead if they had received all three. Here is a link on the background and criteria of wear.

Hey, Love yer blog and I have a couple questions: 1) Are you at all related to the 20th Maine Joshua Chamberlain? 2) I know Basic has changed since I went through it in '85 but I'm wondering how much? Is Hell Week still Hellish? From the time I came home till the time my buddy went in (about 2 months or so) something changed or he was lieing because he was saying the first week wasn't a shock at all. Ideas? Perhaps MOS has something to do with it? I was at Fort Sill(13E) and he was at Fort Rucker(I wanna say 67N...Huey Mechanic whatever the MOS is for that) and what's up with the "The last bare right sleeve in the Infantry"?

No, I am not related in any way to COL Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. However, he is one of my favorite figures in Civil War history and relatively well known among those with a penchant for military history. To me he is a fine example of someone who had the courage to take up arms for his beliefs when it would have been far easier to remain far from harms way in Maine. Here is a link to a short bio..

Hell Week" isn’t really known by that name as far as I know. It goes by phases now. Red Phase is the first 3-4 weeks of Basic and it is basically complete and total control of every minute of a Private’s life. They spend just about every second of their time under the wrathful eye of all the Drills, and are punished mercilessly for any infraction. It is the first step of the "soldierization" process, and if done right, will set the tone for the rest of the cycle. It lays the foundation for the Discipline they will need throughout their military career. The instruction and methods are supposed to be the same for all Basic Training, but the truth is that differences exist, even within Companies at times, in the privileges, toughness, discipline, etc that a Platoon receives. A lot depends on the Drill Sergeant. From the minute we pick up the soldiers on Day 1, I try to be their worst nightmare. I believe that first impressions are everything and once they understand that there is only one Alpha Male in this pack, everything becomes a little easier. I tend to keep my soldiers guessing a lot. I spend more time than some Drills talking to them in a normal tone of voice. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you simply yell all the time, the soldiers start to tune you out. But they all know that I tolerate no BS. If they forget where they stand in the foodchain, I will go from human to Nuclear in a nanosecond. I am very sparing with privileges and my soldiers know that (they seem to take pride in it). On the other hand, if they do well, I will let them know it and am not above rewarding outstanding performance with additional phone time, free time, the occasional Gatorade, etc. If they accomplish something truly remarkable (like a 40% jump from RM 10 to RM 11, with 3 experts) I may allow them to watch a military themed movie when time allows. (Towards the end of the cycle I plan to let them watch Saving Private Ryan, We were Soldiers, or Blackhawk Down.)

You wear your Combat Patch on your right sleeve. Since I am stuck like Chuck here at Fort Jackson while every other Infantryman on earth is out there, doing their job in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc… my right sleeve is still bare. I originally planned to volunteer for Drill SGT duty before 9/11. After 9/11 I threw my volunteer packet away without turning it in. Then I got selected anyway. This is a tough job. If we were not at war, it would be the toughest job in the Army. Since we are at war, I feel like a shammer (Army lingo for someone who is being lazy or avoiding their duties) for not having done my time in combat yet. I don’t give a crap about the patch, (ok… maybe a little lol) but sometimes I hate the feeling that I’m stuck here instead of out there doing my real job.

DS Rob, I have a question about Basic Training, I know that FTX had already been extended from 3-4 days to 7-10, but is it true that the 9 weeks is being extended to 13 weeks; to emphasize more on MOUT/Weapons training? I'm a PFC in the Army and when I went through basic a little over a year ago, I remember that when we went through US Weapons we were rushed through, and we didn't even touch up on MOUT, but then again it wasn't IBCT; this was at Ft. LWD.

We haven’t extended the FTX yet… but it is on the way and I expect it within the next few cycles. There is some talk about going to 13 weeks for BCT. I think it is a good idea, but as I understand it, they don’t have the funding currently. Therefore, we just get more to teach in the same amount of time. It makes it hard sometimes, but there is no excuse for rushing through training. They are still tweaking the schedules and POI I believe, and eventually, hopefully, they will settle on the best compromise. Until then, we have a saying among NCOs. You don’t have to like it, just "salute and execute". Another common phrase is "make it happen" lol. (I said common… not helpful)

Well, there ya go. If I missed any questions just shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.