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Free Advice From An 18Xer

brian.goldstein

New member
A friend of mine, going through Q-school right now, shot me an email today, after hearing about some of the questions here.

Basically, today, they had a surprise pft.
2 mile run
max push-ups in 2 minutes
max sit-ups in 2 minutes

20 candidates in his class and 2 Medics. 8 failed the run, including both medics. They are being recycled. The cut-off for the run was 15:56. That is really slow, especially since that's the time you need to score to get into the army to begin with.
If you're unfamiliar with what my buddy has gone through to get to where he is - its
14 weeks of OSUT
3 weeks Airborne
about a month of PLDC
SOPC (about a month)
SFAS (24 days of hell) before you start the Q course. Apparently he's pretty far along, as he mentioned that his class is prepping for Robin Sage, their culminating exercise. These are not a group of green recruits. They've already made it further than at least 75% of the men who've tried, and you can still get bounced for not having something simple and basic in line.

I like to refer to this as the "Law School" phenomenon. Basically, if you're a liberal arts major in college, the default professional school is Law School. Everyone sees it as their meal ticket, something elite to proud of, and the "best" that they can be.
You can guess their career aspirations too -"I want to practice National Security Law" or "I'll be at an investment bank" or "I'm going to be the next Vincent Bugilosi/Ari Gold/Insert Colorful Legal Character Here."

Well, guess what. You know how many of my friends/acquaintances wanted to go to law school? I'd conservatively guess 500. Do you want to guess how many are there now? I would say 150 took the LSAT, 100 applied, 50, at most went, and out of them, I know for a fact that 10 are dropping out after 1L and 10 won't pass the bar. and of the 30 that do graduate and pass the bar, they will be pretty happy with themselves if they can get a job, let alone one of the "sexy" legal jobs that pays an exorbirant amount.

My point with Law School and SFAS (or BUD/S or FORECON pipeline or RIP or PJ pipeline - whatever) is that it is set up to weed out people who are not focused on their goals, and that if you are serious about finishing and succeeding, you had better be able to meet the minimum they require -easily- FIRST before thinking "sexy."
 

Brad Nelson RKC

New member
is that run naked or with gear?

not making 15:56 in the 2 mile is pathetic. My best 2 mile time in HS was 9:42 . I'm sure I could pull 6 min miles right now not having run for 10 years.
 

brian.goldstein

New member
I believe it was "naked" but honestly that's ancillary to the larger point so I didn't ask.
And to be fair to the ones that were recycled - I have no idea what kind of training load they had been under recently so far be it from me to pass judgement on otherwise skilled operators. Likely, they just lost focus, but that's the entire point of their training isn't it?
Rant over.
 

greg57

New member
I wont profess to know a thing about q course, but from what I have heard from some of my friends who have passed ranger school, these schools can be really physically demanding and provide little rest and food for recovery. Let's face it, the army's approach to training is to smoke the hell out of the soldier as often as possible. I am sure the people who failed the PT test passed one before they started q. It may have been the weakest few who failed, but I think this says more about the army's approach to pt than the failures. These courses are meant to be exclusive, to break the soldier down, not to train them to their peak conditioning, they should have already done that themselves.
 

vernaciousd

New member
I won't profess to knowing what goes on there now but I do now that the academic workload during the mos phase is quite high. As an example, in the SF medic course the first class that they get is Anatomy and Physiology, which in college is a semester course, they get it in 6 days. But then the whole medic course is like this, they are in class all day and then they study all night.
As far as the pt test its taken in shorts, shirt, and running shoes. When I did the commo course we ran three days a week and then rucked the other two. Before we went out to robin sage we not only had to pass the pt test but we also had to do the 12 mile road march in 3 hrs.
As far as the guys who didn't pass the pt test, I don't know, I wasn't there so I can't pass judgement. For all I know those guys could have been on med profile during all or part of the mos phase and did not have time to prep for the pt test.
You figure the Q course is a little over a year long, and it usually takes the medics 2 yrs to get through. Thats if they don't recycled. Thats a long time gentlemen, anything can happen to you in that time period.
 

brian.goldstein

New member
Right and this all is less of a judgment of what they have achieved than to admonish some young comrades to keep their focus and priorities in order. To be frank, those guys who are getting recycled have already achieved more than most men ever will - they deserve our respect.

Without divulging into a Jordan V-esque meltdown, the take-away message is work the hell out of the basics (running, sit-ups, push-ups, swings and get-ups) before thinking of getting sexy.

Like Alwyn Cosgrove says "You have to earn the right" to train with weights in his gym, and if you're still on the path to your primary goal then you haven't earned the right to get sexy. Like it or not there are tests in the way, and you have to overcome them before doing the sexy stuff.

Typically, any base-level conditioning program that incorporates progression and specific event practice will get you to that level. But that's not what they want to hear. They want to hear "Oh you've got to do reverse lunges stepping off a 6" block with a twist to hit your quadros lumbdrum for 3 sets of 24 reps every 8th day" or some such nonsense.

Practice your events and work the program minimum!
 

inarchetype

New member
I don't know the first thing about Q, SFAS, etc.

But I do know for a fact that these guys would have already had to do better than that to clear abn and pldc- that much I can say with certainty (unless a LOT has changed in the intervening years)- And frankly, even to clear OSUT.

In fact, at most of these kinds of army schools (NOT talking about the elite ones- I wouldn't know), at least in my day, you got to have a current passing apft to get orders, and you take another apft when you show up- if you fail, you go back to your unit (or wherever you came from).

So I can only assume that we are talking about some SERIOUS accumulated fatigue, etc. from the training load at Q.

I just didn't want readers without military backgrounds (or, heaven forbid, guys from other services) getting the idea that there are folks making it that far along who have trouble passing basic apft requirements under any normal circumstances- 99% sure that isn't the case here, or thinking less of these recycles than they deserve; to get that far, they've already come through a hell of a lot, as I understand it.

As I say, the SOC world is one I know nothing about; but the really useful take home for aspirants that I would glean from the thread is that being able to pass minimum requirements under favourable or ordinary conditions isn't anything like enough for any of the more demanding schools/billets in the military (SOC or otherwise)- these guys would have already proven that they could do that very easily many times.
 
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brian.goldstein

New member
that's the logical extension, inarchetype. What I'm getting on about is people who have not proven themselves wanting to get way ahead of themselves.
 

greg57

New member
That was my point too. To be fair, physical conditioning is far from priority #1 in courses such as these.

I think it is a shame when people idolize "navy seal workouts" or other types of military fitness. The APFT is a test, and a poor one at that. It is not a total conditioning plan. I have known many guys who can do 80 push ups, but can't put up 200lbs on the bench. Having a very refined groove and good elastic strength in your tendons does not translate to any real power.
 

greg57

New member
Brian, trainees at some schools lose unhealthy amounts of weight, If you go in with a low body fat % the loss has to come from somewhere.

I know what you are talking about, I recently had a conversation with a cop buddy about how everybody wants to go straight into SWAT or SF, yet few realize it is very tough to be an infantryman or regular cop.

Lets not take anything away from those who failed their PT, they were very successful to get as far as they did and likely a few of them had minor medical conditions that had been accumulating that they had not gone to sick call for. Guys will roll their ankle landing bad in jump school, and keep on rucking, eventually they may break down though.
 

inarchetype

New member
As far as the guys who didn't pass the pt test, I don't know, I wasn't there so I can't pass judgement. For all I know those guys could have been on med profile during all or part of the mos phase and did not have time to prep for the pt test.
You figure the Q course is a little over a year long, and it usually takes the medics 2 yrs to get through. Thats if they don't recycled. Thats a long time gentlemen, anything can happen to you in that time period.

Another VERY important point that non or pre military folks have to grasp- you may or may not have the good fortune to remain healthy through any physically challenging schools- Generally people gut it out as long as they can because they don't want to get recycled (or cut). Even in basic I knew guys who finished on nasty sprains, stress fractures, just munching down the motrin horse pills (in which there is a vibrant secondary market) to get from day to day, march to march, and run to run. Guys with bronchitis who gut it out, and guys who give themselves pneumonia trying...

Often, its the PT test (or falling out on a mandatory march, formation run, etc) that finally gets the tough but unlucky ones who have been masking injuries or illnesses recycled. How much more so in the longer and tougher schools?
 
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inarchetype

New member
I know what you are talking about, I recently had a conversation with a cop buddy about how everybody wants to go straight into SWAT or SF, yet few realize it is very tough to be an infantryman or regular cop.

Very much so; and this has always bothered me a bit about the media/public's fixation with only the highest profile units; Not that they don't deserve their due, they absolutely have earned respect;

But only that it diminishes the recognition and appreciation of what life in any combat arms (particularly infantry) unit (and a number of other places in the military, for that matter) is about, and how demanding; The contributions made and challenges met by those guys on a daily basis.

Especially w.r.t. aspiring recruits- personally, I think one should worry about whether one could hack it as a decent soldier before worrying about whether one can be "elite".
 
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brian.goldstein

New member
Brian, trainees at some schools lose unhealthy amounts of weight, If you go in with a low body fat % the loss has to come from somewhere.

I know what you are talking about, I recently had a conversation with a cop buddy about how everybody wants to go straight into SWAT or SF, yet few realize it is very tough to be an infantryman or regular cop.

Lets not take anything away from those who failed their PT, they were very successful to get as far as they did and likely a few of them had minor medical conditions that had been accumulating that they had not gone to sick call for. Guys will roll their ankle landing bad in jump school, and keep on rucking, eventually they may break down though.

Ya it's not as much a judgment on them - though my friend who was there cranked out 75 push-ups, 85 sit-ups and a 12:45 2 mile (i.e maxed his APFT) fwiw. But... on those aspiring to be where they are - there's no excuse to not have that level in place before considering that path. It is literally the simplest thing they will have to have before they go through it, and until they have the simple stuff there's little reason to care about the difficult. Right on with the SWAT analogy - it's the same thing.
 

brian.goldstein

New member
Very much so; and this has always bothered me a bit about the media/public's fixation with only the highest profile units; Not that they don't deserve their due, they absolutely have earned respect;

But only that it diminishes the recognition and appreciation of what life in any combat arms (particularly infantry) unit (and a number of other places in the military, for that matter) is about, and how demanding; The contributions made and challenges met by those guys on a daily basis.

This is spot on about what most civilians do not understand about the modern military. It is a team concept and everyone from the Delta operator to the General Staff to the greenest poolee has a role to play in supporting the mission.

I happen to be a civilian but having been around enough military people my whole life it always irks me when I'm out in DC and hear someone say something like "He was just a grunt" or something to that effect. Stupidest one I've heard so far..."Oh, he was just a Ranger."

w/o getting into a whole rant about it I think it's really bizarre how a nation hooked on Baseball and Football can fail to grasp the concept of combined arms.
 

inarchetype

New member
Ya it's not as much a judgment on them - though my friend who was there cranked out 75 push-ups, 85 sit-ups and a 12:45 2 mile

Ashamed to say I checked up on this- just because I remembered max being quite a bit higher...

And whadyaknow- you're right...

The standards did go down!

I'll have to double check this, but if I remember correctly (maybe a big if), in the early 90's, max on the run for 18-22 was 10:54, and for pushups 102.

What on earth are we coming to?
 

inarchetype

New member
I happen to be a civilian but having been around enough military people my whole life it always irks me when I'm out in DC and hear someone say something like "He was just a grunt" or something to that effect. Stupidest one I've heard so far..."Oh, he was just a Ranger."
"Just a Ranger....?"
Not sure I've ever hear anything quite that dumb.

But "Just a Grunt" is just about as dumb...
If people had any idea the level of professionalism expected of (and generally delivered by) the average squad leader...

I think people don't grasp the implications of the idea of an all volunteer, all professional force. Its very different from the historical, traditional military model.

I'm a civilian too; I'm very happy to be a civilian, and I've been a civilian for a long time now... But it still floors me how little people get about those on whom we depend to make themselves available for our defence.

But as you say, we know everything about our sports heroes and move stars.
 

brian.goldstein

New member
I mean, its not his best effort on the test either, and it's secondary to the bigger point.

in RE: testing standards. Because they are admittedly a poor test of preparedness I don't have a problem in the entry standards being what they are. After all - what's the marginal benefit to the soldier if they can do 100 or just 75 push-ups in two minutes? either way, you can safely assume that either one has sufficient upper body muscular endurance.

it's actually a bit of a blessing. B/c the new standards are easier to attain, they are easier to maintain when you're training for life as an operator. You don't have to devote as much time or energy ensuring you pass the test if you're already competent. Just enough that you have to stay sharp on it, but you do have other competing things to worry about. JMHO.

That assumes you're already passing the test with flying colors of course - which is a big IF apparently.
 

brian.goldstein

New member
"Just a Ranger....?"
Not sure I've ever hear anything quite that dumb.

But "Just a Grunt" is just about as dumb...
If people had any idea the level of professionalism expected of (and generally delivered by) the average squad leader...

I think people don't grasp the implications of the idea of an all volunteer, all professional force. Its very different from the historical, traditional military model.

I'm a civilian too; I'm very happy to be a civilian, and I've been a civilian for a long time now... But it still floors me how little people get about those on whom we depend to make themselves available for our defence.

But as you say, we know everything about our sports heroes and move stars.

Two observations -
First is - I do live in DC. ignorance and arrogance are like earth and water inside the beltway.
Second is - it's not just that we know everything about them (and then, b/c most of us can't do, we critique) its that the same lessons we learn from casually watching ESPN are completely lost once they are severed from their original context.
 
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