navy seals vs army rangers
General Military Questions

Navy SEALs Vs. Army Rangers: An In-Depth Comparison

If you ever come upon a discussion about the various US Special Operations groups, you’ll inevitably get sucked in to drawing comparisons between them.

Which ones tougher?
Which one has the hardest training? 
Who is the best?

One comparison I see pretty often is that of Navy SEALs vs. Army Rangers.

These 2 units have very different selection processes, training, and even mission sets.

The purpose of this article is not to ‘pick a winner’.

Rather, we want to give you the best information possible on each unit to help you figure out which one is right for you.

Quick Comparison of Navy SEALS vs. Army Rangers

 Navy SEALsArmy Rangers
SummaryNavy SEALs are the primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command.Army Rangers are graduates of the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger School. The elite airborne light infantry combat formation acts within the Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).
Founded19621943
Motto"The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday""Rangers Lead the Way"
Average Age3023
Logo / Insignia
Headquarters Naval Amphibious Base Coronado
Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek
Fort Benning, Georgia
Fort Lewis, Washington
Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia
Total Size2,4503,625
Primary Mission- Special Operations
- Direct Action
- Counter-Terrorism
- Special Reconnaissance
- Unconventional Warfare
- Hostage Rescue
- Foreign Internal Defense
- Counter-Proliferation
- Counter Narcotic Operations
- Light Infantry
- Special Operations
- Direct Action
- Special Reconnaissance
Requirements- US Citizen
- Meet specific eyesight requirements
- Meet the minimum ASVAB score
- 28 years of age or younger
- Pass a physical examination required for divers
- US Citizen
- Physical training score of 240+
- Qualify / volunteer for Airborne training
- In good moral character
- Eligible for a security clearance
Are Women Allowed?YesYes

What Are Navy SEALs?

rangers vs. SEALs
Navy SEALs are one of the most recognizable elite forces in the world. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land teams are traditionally shortened to “Navy SEALs”.

SEALs are one of the most prestigious and recognizable names within the U.S. Armed Forces.

The legendary special operations force has origins that date back nearly six decades.

Navy SEALs are the primary special operations force and component of the Naval Special Warfare Command.

SEALs are delegated with conducting small-unit special operation missions in maritime, jungle, mountainous, arctic, desert, and urban environments.

Often, SEALs deal with capturing or eliminating high-level targets.

They also are integral in gathering intelligence behind enemy lines to assist other levels of the U.S. government and Armed Forces.

There are currently only 2,450 Navy SEALs which represents less than one percent of the U.S. Navy.

Therefore, it is extremely competitive and challenging to get accepted into the prestigious unit.

The elite force is currently open to female enrollment yet no one has met the qualifications yet to become active-duty of 2020.

Many recruits join the U.S. Navy with ambitions to eventually join the special ops unit.

Additionally, the CIA regularly recruits members of the Navy SEALs for its highly secretive Special Operations Group (SOG).

The headquarters for the Navy SEALs exists at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek.

The United States officially established the special forces operation in 1962, yet has roots that date to World War II.

Related ArticleNavy Special Warfare Operator (SO) AKA Navy SEAL: Career Profile

What are Army Rangers?

army ranger vs navy seal
Army Rangers are highly specialized soliders with a variety of skills, including the ability to combat a resistance from the air. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The United States Army Rangers serves as an elite division of the traditional active-duty branch.

Arm Rangers are graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger School and serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The prestigious Army Ranger School is very difficult to complete as it has several intense requirements, including completing parachuting training.

The Rangers date back to the 17th century and helped swing the tide during the American Revolution.

However, they were not officially recognized by the U.S. Armed Forces until 1943.

The 75th Ranger Regiment operates under the rule of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

Rangers provide an elite airborne light infantry combat formation for the traditional Army.

All in all, the 75th Ranger Regiment is organized into six battalions.

Army Rangers have seen action in major conflicts including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Rangers were also instrumental in assisting with the conflicts in Grenada and Panama.

The Ranger Training Brigade (RTB) has headquarters at Fort Benning in Georgia.

Army Ranger headquarters are also at Fort Lewis (Washington) and Hunter Army Airfield (Georgia).

Related ArticleArmy APFT Test Standards For Males and Females

What do Navy SEALs do?

seals vs rangers
Navy SEALs have a diverse range of duties, including special operations and reconnaissance missions. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Navy SEALs are the maritime version of US Special Forces, similar in some ways to Green Berets and even Delta Force.

The special operations force (SOF) has many different roles:

  • Special Operations
  • Direct Action
  • Counter-Terrorism
  • Special Reconnaissance
  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Hostage Rescue
  • Foreign Internal Defense
  • Counter-Proliferation
  • Counter Narcotic Operations

Navy SEALs became extremely noteworthy during the controversial war in Vietnam.

They were instrumental in evading remote islands and difficult terrain to pave the way for other units.

Navy SEALs traditionally operate in small units that allow them to provide special operations including reconnaissance.

SEALs have evolved to become counter-terrorism operatives following September 11.

Prior to that, Navy SEALs also influenced the outcome in conflicts that did not turn into wars like the situation in Grenada, Panama, and Somalia.

Recently, they have been courageous and helpful in the longlasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A specialized Navy SEAL unit called DEVGRU led the invasion and assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Navy SEALs utilize special teams like Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and “Leap Frogs” parachute team.

Related ArticleDEVGRU: 7 Things You (probably) Didn’t Know About SEAL Team 6

What do Army Rangers do?

ranger or seal
Rangers have the training to carry out a variety of missions and provide support for all major conflicts involving the United States. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Army Rangers serve as an elite light infantry unit.

Therefore, it’s difficult to narrow down their list of duties but here are some of the primary responsibilities:

  • Direct Action
  • National and International Emergency Crisis Response
  • Airfield Seizure
  • Airborne & Air Assault Operations
  • Special Reconnaissance
  • Intelligence & Counter Intelligence
  • Combat Search & Rescue
  • Personnel Recovery & Hostage Rescue
  • Joint Special Operations
  • Counter-Terrorism

Rangers are similar to regular soldiers of the Army yet with more specialized training.

Furthermore, Rangers feature small units and are extremely mobile if they are required for rapid deployment.

Army Rangers have assisted the country since World War II yet became more important following the conclusion of the Vietnam War.

The 75th Ranger Regiment consists of six battalions that combine special operations with elite airborne infantry.

Since most of the units in the U.S. Army provide support on the ground, Rangers are incredibly invaluable.

The regiment is flexible and has the ability to carry out a variety of missions and orders.

The Ranger Creed is very important to the responsibilities and expectations of every soldier.

Rangers have participated in several operations throughout modern history.

Operation Eagle Claw and Operation Urgent Fury are two of its most historic missions.

Moreover, three Ranger battalions participated in the invasion of Panama.

Rangers were also deployed during the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the War in Afghanistan.

Related ArticleGreen Berets Vs. Navy SEALs: 4 Major Differences

Navy SEAL Selection Process

army rangers or navy seals
Prospective candidates spend over a year training to become a Navy SEAL, including the legendary BUD/S training. Image: Defense.gov

The Navy SEAL selection process is extremely indepth. 

For example, the average recruit of the U.S. Navy Sea, Air, Land Teams (SEALs) spends over a year in training.

Once you graduate from the training program you receive an official rating as a Special Warfare Operator.

Every Navy SEAL is required to attend and graduate from the 24-week “A” School based on their rating.

The “A” School is known as the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) School.

Furthermore, they need to complete the basic parachutist course as well as the SEAL Qualification Training program.

New recruits must meet the basic requirements of the Navy SEALs:

  • Citizens of the United States.
  • Between the ages of 18-29.
  • A minimum score of 220 on ASVAB.
  • Vision of 20/70 and correctable to 20/25.
  • Complete the SEAL Physical Screening Test.

Also, keep in mind that the U.S. Navy looks into your background and personal conduct.

They are seeking candidates with no recent history of alcohol or drug abuse.

Applicants must have “good moral character” that is free of criminal convictions and civil citations.

Lastly, new recruits can only receive assignment to BUD/S by completing the SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST).

Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School

The Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School lasts eight weeks.

The introduction to Navy SEAL training takes place in Illinois.

Prospective SEALs are introduced to the physical fitness standards required to join the elite unit.

After completing two types of fitness screenings, the recruit may progress to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training.

Related ArticleNavy SEAL Weapons and Gear: 24 Rifles, Handguns, Shotguns, and More

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training

BUD/S training is considered one of the toughest in the US military, if not the world. Image: Wikimedia.org

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training takes 24 weeks to complete.

It is designed to test your physical stamina along with your mental fortitude.

You’ll also learn critical leadership skills needed to survive as a Navy SEAL.

BUD/S Training is divided into four sections:

  • BUD/S Orientation (3 Weeks)
  • Phase 1: Physical Conditions (7 Weeks)
  • Phase 2: Combat Diving (7 Weeks)
  • Final Phase 3: Land Warfare (7 Weeks)

You can learn more about the specifics of Navy SEAL BUD/S Training by reading this article.

Navy SEAL Parachute Jump School

The Navy SEAL Parachute Jump School lasts three weeks in San Diego, California.

The accelerated program only lasts three weeks yet you learn so much during the course.

Candidates must pass through a series of jump progressions to complete the course.

SEAL Qualification Training (SQT)

Navy Seal SQT
SEAL SQT students conducting ‘buddy carries’ in BUD/S Class 268. Image: Wikimedia.org

Navy SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) adds another 26 weeks to the intensive training schedule.

It is intended to take the recruit from the basic elementary level of Naval Special Warfare to a more advanced degree of tactical training.

As a result, Navy SQT provides students with the core tactical knowledge to stand out in a SEAL unit.

Navy SQT provides advanced weapons training, close-quarters combat, land navigation, demolitions, and other specialized training.

After finishing SQT, new recruits receive their first assignment in California or Virginia.

New SEALs go through TRP and other specialized training while awaiting their first deployment.

Depending on their specialty, new SEALs may take the SEAL Sniper Course or Advanced Special Operations (MSO) training, among many other offerings.

Related ArticleGreen Berets Vs. Army Rangers: 5 Major Differences

Army Ranger Selection Process

which is harder rangers or seals
Prospective Rangers undergo intensive training including the mountain phase of training during Ranger School. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rangers have a comparable selection process that takes several months or years to complete.

You can expect to get challenged in every capacity, so make sure you know what you are getting into before you enlist.

The Ranger Assessment and Selection (RASP) is a demanding, 8-week course.

The purpose of RASP is to test the physical and mental strength of every new recruit under extreme conditions.

You need to pass RASP to officially join the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Here are the basic requirements for becoming an Army Ranger:

  • Currently on active-duty.
  • General Technical: 105 or higher on the ASVAB.
  • Qualify and volunteer for airborne training.
  • Complete RASP 1.
  • No pending UCMJ action.
  • Capable of maintaining secret military clearance.

Once recruits complete Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) they may progress to RASP.

RASP has a couple of basic expectations: A) You need to pass a health screening and B) pass the RASP entry fitness test.

Army RASP Phase 1: Testing

The first phase of RASP includes a lot of testing.

Students are assessed based on their physical fitness levels.

Additionally, the military program studies your character and leadership ability.

Some of the highlights of phase one include:

  • Force Ruck March and Run
  • Land Navigation (Day and Night)
  • First Responder Test

Army RASP Phase 2: Ranger Skills Training

After passing all the mandatory screenings and tests, students progress to stage two of training.

Candidates learn the skills and maneuvers that prepare them for the lifestyle of an Army Ranger.

Students learn the principals of direct action combat, airfield seizure, and personnel recovery.

Other highlights of the second phase of RASP training include:

  • Marksmanship and Tactics
  • Basic Regimental Marksmanship
  • Advanced Regimental Marksmanship
  • Explosives and Breaching

Upon successful completion of RASP, recruits receive a tan beret for graduating from the preparation course.

Officers need to complete additional training through RASP 2 before graduating from the program.

Army Ranger School

army ranger training
Second phase of US Army Ranger school, also known as Mountain Phase. Image: Army.mil

All members of the 75th Ranger Regiment are expected to attend and complete Ranger School.

Rangers have the option of entering the school before or after their selection to the regiment.

Army Ranger School includes the prestigious Airbourne School which is considered the highlight of Ranger training.

There are 3 distinct phases of Ranger School:

  • Crawl Phase (20 Days)
  • Walk Phase (21 Days)
  • Run Phase (TBD)

You can learn more about the expectations and training exercises through the official website.

Related Article: Which Branch Of The Military Should I Join? 7 Things To Consider

Conclusion

The choice between Navy SEALs and Army Rangers might be an easy one for some, and a difficult choice for others. 

Either way, whichever one you pick will be a very difficult uphill battle to attain the title of ‘SEAL’ or ‘Ranger’.

Navy SEALs are legendary based on their reputation and severity of missions they execute.

Meanwhile, Army Rangers have to complete Ranger School which includes the notorious Parachute/Jump School.

Both elite units provide an outstanding career in the military where you’ll get to see the world and become involved in highly secretive and important operations.

In the end, the choice is yours.

Rob V.
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