U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group sprint to keep up their pace for the Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Sep. 5, 2012. Each person had three hours to complete a 12-mile course while carrying a simulated M-4 and 60 pound rucksack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Paul Francis/Released)
Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group take cover after hearing a simulated mortar round during Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 7, 2012. The training helped to determine if the Airmen were ready to be sent to U.S. Army Ranger School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Douglas Ellis/Released)
Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group take a knee during Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 7, 2012. The training lasted six days and was designed to challenge participants physically and mentally. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Douglas Ellis/Released)
Two Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group cover their squad as they take out enemy forces during Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 7, 2012. Airmen who participated in the training were evaluated on their physical fitness and ability to lead a patrol under harsh living conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Douglas Ellis/Released)
U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group begin a ruck march for Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course at the 820th Base defense squadron Moody Air Force Base Ga., Sep. 5, 2012. The training included patrolling, military operations in urban terrain training and combat water survival training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Paul Francis/Released)
by Senior Airman Douglas Ellis
23d Wing Public Affairs
9/18/2012 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A 12-mile ruck march, water survival, battle drills and urban tactics all while being deprived of food and sleep is what prepares Moody Airmen for U.S. Army Ranger School.
The 820th Base Defense Group hosted a six-day Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 4 to 9.
"Everything they are seeing right now, they will see again during Ranger school," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Ralph Johnson, 822nd Base Defense Squadron lead Ranger instructor. "That way, when they get to school, it won't be the first time they've seen it."
The goal of the Pre-Ranger Focus Training Course is to teach, coach and mentor Airmen in the tasks and skills required to successfully complete the rigorous Ranger School. The instructors' sole purpose throughout this course is to mold the students into more capable, confident and professional tactical leaders.
The course will help Airmen not only have success during Ranger School, but the skills learned can also be applied when working with Army units downrange -- a critical element to mission success.
"In our career field, we attach to Army units and do Army missions," said Johnson. "Knowing how to execute battle drills the right way and knowing how to lead in a strenuous environment can eventually save someone's life when things get tough."
Airmen who participated in the training were evaluated on their physical fitness and leadership abilities while operating in harsh living conditions.
"They will know what it feels like to be tired, cold, wet and hungry in the field," Johnson said. "That way, when they get there, it's not a shock to them."
Airmen learned how to recognize and react to various mental and physical challenges leaders often face on the battlefield and were evaluated on their ability to make sound and timely decisions.
"We put them through combat water survival tests to see if they could remain calm in the water," said Johnson. "Then, we tested their leadership to see if they could lead from the front or buckle under the pressure."
The preparatory course, which includes events such as the 12-mile ruck march, combat water survival training, battle drill rehearsals, military orders and military operations in urban terrain has all contributed to the 820th BDG's perfect 12 of 12 pass rate from Army Ranger School. The challenges forced Airmen to push themselves to the limit each day of training.
"For me, the most challenging part of the training was the physical aspect combined with the mental aspect," said Staff Sgt. Justin Miller, 822nd BDS fireteam leader. "Once you get to a certain point where you start to physically and mentally break down, it's hard to push through."
During the training, Miller faced the challenge of leading a foot patrol and ensuring his Airmen continued on to complete the mission.
"You have a lot of things on your mind when leading a patrol," said Miller. "Your No. 1 goal is to complete the mission, and in order to do that, you have to keep your troops motivated."
Not only did the training benefit the participants by preparing them for Ranger School and future deployments, but it also improved their leadership skills.
"It was a good course and it bettered my leadership all around," said Miller. "The course would be beneficial for anyone to go through."
9/17/2012 1:51:18 PM ET Quick correction...those packs were like 60lbs not 20lbs.