Carrying a heavy backpack a long distance over rough terrain under a strict time limit, usually unkown.
It’s practical and psychological. Delta Assessment and Selection is based on SAS selection. Cover long distances with a ruck. One key is not know how much time you have. That adds mental pressure.
In the Special Forces Q-Course, it’s gone more and more like SAS. Lots of forced marches. I remember at first we’d help guys who were having a hard time. Maybe take his weapon to assist. But then the realization sets in that this guy is someone you could be in combat with and he wasn’t cutting it. So they were cut loose.
We set up and run a “gut check” in 10th Special Forces while I was there. We’d alert a team, have them grab their gear as is — this ensured they always had their gear packed to go — and we’d load them on a plane and fly them to Western PA where they parachuted in. On the drop zone was a note giving them coordinates for where they had to go. But no time limit. If they made it in the time limit we had pre-determined, there was food resupply waiting. If not, nothing other than the next coordinates. And so on. It was a great test of team cohesion.
I always felt we were essentially beasts of burden on deployment. Ammunition weighs a lot. When it comes to bullets vs food, we went with bullets. I remember cutting meals down and looking at a plastic spoon as too much weight. You only need one for all your meals. For 30 days it was one meal a day so you’re looking at some big time weight loss.
The only man I had removed from my team it was because he couldn’t carry his weight in the field — we had to sort and cache some of his gear and that simply isn’t acceptable.
We rucked twice a week when in garrison as part of our physical training routine. Essentially we worked out 7 times in a 5 day week: 2 rucks, 2 swims in the lake since we were a MAROPs team, and 3 regular PT sessions.
Enlisted who spend a lot of time in SF end up being like professional football players. Their knees are shot, their shoulders, their backs — rucking, parachuting, all of it takes a toll. Now they’re saying that breaching charges and flash-bangs cause mini-concussions which isn’t good news given the number we used in training and on ops.
Bottom line though — rucking is mental and separates people quickly.