Ranger school is considered an advanced infantry leadership course at Fort Benning, Ga. It varies in length, when was in it started at 56 days and then got lengthened to 72, then shortened again when they took out "prairie" phase in Utah. If you are an Infantry branch officer-you will go to Ranger school, lest you are satisfied with with attaining the rank of O-3 (Capt.) for your career. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranger_...#Benning_Phase
Once complete, you are authorized to wear a Ranger "Tab" above your unit patch (on the left shoulder). At ranger school, they teach you patrolling ad nauseum-Raids, recon, ambush, patrol base and all the cool guy action stuff that goes with it-Aussie Rappeling, fries, spies, stabo, etc. IF you are airboren qualified, you jump into your next phase. Citi phase was at Camp Darby, GA; Mountain Phase-Dahlonega, GA, Swamp Phase/Jungle phase-Camp Rudder, Fl, Prairie Phase-Dugway Proving Ground-UT and desert phase at Ft. Bliss, TX. You learn both recon and direct action.
Ranger school is hard, expecially in the winter-next to no sleep, no food, heavy rucks/combat loads, going from patrol, to patrol, to patrol-out in the elements. People used to die every once in a while in this school. In fact, I was friends with one of the RIs who was on a patrol where a Ranger student died-DA was investigating his shit until he go out.
Its one thing to sit at our computers and talk about it, but wait to you see guys after 3 days with no sleep starting putting quarters into trees in the middle of the night-what that fuck are you doing ranger? Getting a coke sgt-you want one? Yeah, you start hallucinating after a while and doing some strange shit! Got to crap while while on the ambush line-tough shit-hold it. When the rain comes -or snow or worse yet-freezing rain-and you are lying in a patrol base shivering to keep warm-but can't put on any rain gear or poly pro-b/c that would violate security-you just suck it up, get sick and really have a shitty experience or quit. IF you get hurt and have to recycle, you go to the gulag-which sucks. No matter how tire you are-when your name gets called and you get assigned the next mission-you heart starts pounding and adrenaline starts going. It will get you through.
Now, to call one self a "Ranger" in the Army implies that you are in Ranger Battalion-1, 2nd, or 3ed Bat. If you are not in a Ranger Bat, you aren't a Ranger- Period-you just went to Ranger School-which is open to all combat arms MOSs and even some non-combat arms jobs-keep in mind, I got out several years ago, at this point, so this shit has probably changed by now. Great school, great combat leadership training. to say you are a ranger when not assigned to a ranger bat can get you your ass kicked real fast!
Once assigned to Ranger bat-enlisted go to RIP-ranger indoc program-to make sure you aren't wimp and that you have the metal to be there-also, you don't wear your beret until passing RIP. Officers and NCOs go to ROP-Ranger orientation program-a lot different-but still a prereq to wear the beret. Then you go to Ranger school when a slot opens up. You get treated like shit until you are Ranger qualified! So, there is plenty of incentive to go as fast as possible.
Ranger bat used to specialize in air field siezure and Tier 1 asset support-security. We had a SGT guy who had been in Battalion since the 80s-he said Ranger Bat had totally changed since when he first started. With Iraq going on, I am sure all this shit changed again-its evolved to meet the needs of current combat conditions. All infantry units can do recon, raid, ambush, etc. But, depending on the unit you are assigned to, how missions are assigned depends on how the unit is configured. Just because the elements of patrolling are all the same-Planning, recon, security, and control-you can fuck up an ambush real quick like if you are just used to doing recon, and vise versa b/c actions on the Objective are quite different. which is why certain platoons or companies may specialize in a particular area or skill-such as cold teams, Webco-not we be chillin-Weapons platoon, etc.
Ranger battalion is one of the best airborne light fighter units in the world-highly trained, highly motivated with the best equipment uncle sam can provide. If you positively, absolutely want it destroyed over night-send Ranger Battalion.