Over the weekend, the Discovery Channel aired "Hell and Back, Special Ops Ranger" -- an episode shedding light on what it takes to make it through the notoriously difficult 75th Ranger Regiment's Assessment and Selection Program (RASP).
According to the Army's press release on the episode issued last week, Rangers' operations include special reconnaissance, direct action raids, offensive infantry operations, forcible entry operations, and partnering with host nation forces. Those going through RASP are tested physically and mentally on everything from marksmanship and demolitions to Ranger First Responder and close-quarter combat drills. The press release also boasts that in a class of 114 soldiers, only 91 Rangers graduated.
With these hosts of challenges, it would be expected there wouldn't be a perfect graduation rate. As Jack Murphy, an eight year Army Special Operations veteran, points out on SOFREP (Special Operations Forces Report) this is a "shockingly high graduation rate." He states RASP historically has a 30 percent graduation rate. So have the standards been lowered, he questions?
Here's more from Murphy:
When questioned about this disturbing trend the Ranger Regiment’s Public Affairs Officer wrote, “The standards are the same. This happened to be a class full of studs and Soldiers determined not to fail on camera.” This statement however does not pass the most cursory amount of scrutiny. An entire class of rare physical specimens is a laughable impossibility to anyone who has spent any amount of time in these selection programs. Perhaps some students were hesitant to quit in front of the camera but the presence of a camera does not magically grant RASP students with the ability to knock out an additional fifty pushups on the PT test or allow them to ruckmarch 12 miles any faster than usual.
There is also a robust Pre-RASP program that we did not have back when we went to RIP. This is a great addition to help prepare soldiers for selection but even the best preparatory program would increase the graduation rates by perhaps 5% or 10% on the very high end. Pre-RASP does not explain an alarming 80% graduation rate.
Still, Murphy points to some in class 5-12 -- those documented by the Discovery Channel -- failing certain tests and still graduating. Murphy speculates, "political correctness" for the Discovery Channel may be to blame or organizational changes within command as a whole that may want increased numbers.
"It is sad to see that the Army still plays the numbers game," wrote Murphy. "Someone, somewhere, wants their quotas and thinks that opening the flood gates and putting a bunch of warm bodies in formation solves their problem by making the unit look like it is at full strength on paper. The reality is that they have made it weaker than ever before."
Read more of Murhpy's post on SOFREP here.