Go to triangular compass
Left arrow

Green on Green – The Recon vs Ranger Pipelines

Active Military
Active Military
March 1, 2024
Share on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on Linkedin
Copy Link

Stay Up to Date on American Grit

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

A lot of people compare Marine boot camp to Ranger school, but that isn't really a worthwhile comparison because even paper pushers get sent through both. A better question would be, "What are the advanced versions of these pipelines?"

When viewed from the outside, America’s elite military units can sometimes be seen as a monolith, especially when it comes to the special operations community. Hollywood is especially guilty of this, often making mistakes in their portrayal of these operators from the uniforms and gear they wear, to the types of missions they run, to the jargon and speech they use. The saving grace of this inaccuracy is that it does drum up interest in the civilian sector, which gets potential recruits in the door. Once there, however, there are very different pipelines to entry in these organizations…

So if you've ever wondered what the difference is between getting to the 75th Ranger Regiment vs a Marine Recon Battalion, here's a brief overview:

Rangers Lead the Way

The journey begins with completing Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training, where soldiers acquire the necessary skills for their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Candidates must then pass Airborne School, where they learn parachuting and airborne operations.

The next critical step is to attend the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP). RASP is divided into two phases over eight weeks, testing physical fitness, mental toughness, and tactical skills. Phase 1 focuses on assessing the soldier's physical endurance, leadership abilities, and psychological resilience. Phase 2 involves more specialized combat skills training, including marksmanship, explosives, medical training, and small unit tactics. 

Upon successfully completing RASP, soldiers earn the coveted Ranger Scroll and are assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, becoming part of an elite group that conducts special operation forces (SOF) missions worldwide. According to the Army, "Special Operations is the collective force made up of the Army Rangers, Special Forces (Green Berets), Night Stalkers, Psychological Operations, and Civil Affairs, whereas Special Forces (nicknamed the Green Berets) is an individual unit within Special Operations."

Continuous training and readiness exercises ensure Rangers maintain their exceptional competencies at this high level.

Swift, Silent, Deadly

First, there is an important distinction between Marine Corps Recon and the Special Operations community. Recon is considered Special Operations Capable, but not technically SOF. This firewall exists because the Marine Corps wants it to: rather than answer to SOCOM, or Special Operations Command, the Corps maintains full control. MARSOC operators are who the Corps sends to that party.

After graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Training and School of Infantry, which can take up to six months, Marines must volunteer for Recon selection and pass a rigorous screening process that assesses their physical endurance, swimming skills, and mental resilience. Successful candidates then undergo the Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC), a demanding training program that covers advanced reconnaissance tactics, survival skills, navigation, and amphibious operations. The training emphasizes proficiency in stealth tactics, long-range communications, and precision marksmanship. BRC is a self-contained training package of 12 weeks that can break those not prepared for its challenges.

Upon completion of the BRC, Marines are assigned to Recon units, either Division or Force, where they continue to refine their skills through specialized training and real-world operations. These "Recon Bubbas" are also sent through Army Airborne Jump School, Marine Combatant Dive School, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School, and Military Free-Fall School.

Continual physical conditioning, advanced skills training, and a commitment to excellence are essential for maintaining the same high standards as the best war fighters in the world.

Which Do I Choose?

As an avid diver, my bias would say Recon, obviously, but either fork in this road is an honorable warrior’s journey. Whichever you choose, be prepared, and drink water. You’re going to need it.

send a letter to congress
Adds section
Next Up
Female Rangers: Changing Perceptions

Female Rangers: Changing Perceptions

August 8, 2015
Ranger Medics' Unbelievable Life-Saving Act

Ranger Medics' Unbelievable Life-Saving Act

April 21, 2016