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Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Brian P. Glass

My quads were burning and my breathing was steady but labored as I ascended yet another hill on the rural gravel road I was running on. A little over halfway to my destination, I couldn’t help but think about how the hills didn’t look too bad when I drove this same route a day earlier. A mile isn’t usually a big deal for anyone in even remotely decent shape, but I wasn’t doing an average run through the park either. For the first time since I was in the military, I was competing against myself with a stress shoot.

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USASOC photo

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a Task & Purpose exclusive that delivers a behind-the-scenes look at how elite military units assess and select their members. This first article focuses on why special operations forces need to run selections.

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June 19, 1942, is not a familiar date to most. But members of the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment know it well; it’s the date of activation of the 1st Ranger Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. William Darby. Colloquially known as “Darby’s Rangers,” 1st Battalion and several subsequent Ranger battalions formed during World War II represented the genesis of the modern Ranger role of performing large-scale objective raids and direct-action missions.

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