Think you’ve got the grit to make it through the Army’s notoriously hellish Ranger School? The Air Force wants to help you prepare.

The service is seeking airmen and Space Force guardians for its next Ranger Assessment Course, scheduled to run this spring at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas.

The 19-day preparatory class echoes the 62-day Ranger Course, during which candidates are put through grueling physical and mental challenges, and endure sleep and food deprivation and extreme weather with the intent of developing combat leaders.

Anyone can apply, though command approval is required to attend. About 60 people attend one of the Department of the Air Force’s two prep courses each year, vying for the department’s annual allotment of 20 to 25 Ranger School seats. Slots in the RAC courses are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Attendance to both courses ties directly into the Air Force chief of staff’s priority of strengthening joint leaders and teams by directly placing them in joint leadership school and roles which have proven to build military leaders,” Gabriel Rodriguez, readiness training and RAC program manager at the service’s Security Forces Center, said in a news release.

About 350 airmen have graduated from the elite Ranger School since 1955. The first guardian, Space Force Capt. Daniel Reynolds, pinned on the Ranger Tab last year.

The Air Force launched the RAC course in the 1980s, when less than 40% of those who attempted Ranger School washed out. It shifted in 2019 from an “immediate high performance expectation standard” to a “developmental crawl, walk, run concept,” to align with Ranger School’s Darby, Mountain and Swamp phases.

“Regardless of their recommendation to move onto Ranger School or not, [RAC attendees] are still returning to their units better trained, more lethal and adaptable leaders in the joint arena,” Master Sgt. Keegan Donnelly, an RAC instructor, said in a statement.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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