Selection Class 000, Part 2: Priorities of Work, St. Augustine, Florida

My hope is that everyone who comes to Selection passes Selection. You can expect zero help once it starts, but we owe you more explanation of how to prepare and how to show up ready. In this post you’ll find a lot of lessons learned from Special Operations training as well as some better techniques in direct response to what we saw in Class 000.

The Welcome Party now over, the class was set to move the Zodiac when a more important mission came up. A neighboring truck was stuck and we happily volunteered to help. Two take-aways from this: (1) You never know what’s coming next. This is the mental challenge of Selection. (2) Building rapport matters. Basically, when you’re in an environment – and Selection was on a beach in St. Augustine with a bunch of curious onlookers – do your best to make friends with everyone. Good things happen in life when you do that kind of stuff.

The priorities of work in the military are the things you have to do before you can do anything else. For instance, if you come back from a mission, you don’t just go straight to bed. You refit on ammunition, water, and supplies. You take care of your body and you clean your weapon. In Selection, the priorities of work are (#1) your feet (#2) water (#3) food and (#4) your equipment.

Roughly 9 hours in we gave the candidates their first break. They must have thought the goal was to sit around and rest with zero sense of urgency. Time to refit is precious in life, and whether it’s war, Selection, or the time right before anything important, you gotta make the most of it. This means the priorities of work. If you follow them, you’ll be as prepared as possible for whatever comes next.

Olof’s white sunglasses, stupid grin, Gatorade stained teeth, and crusted chin looked funny, and humor is important in life, so I can’t take that away from him. But he should have been focused on the priorities of work, along with everyone else. So we gave them a few tips on how to make the most of their very limited downtime.

(#1) your feet. Wring your socks out as dry as you can get them and set them somewhere to dry. Keep your feet airing out and dry as long as possible. Put powder on to aid in the drying, but get rid of 99% of the powder before you put your socks back on. When wet, the powder clumps up and is likely to cause discomfort and blisters.

(#4) your ruck. Have a system and know where everything is. Wet weather proof everything you possibly can. You can buy dry bags or you can use contractors bags (a staple in military training). The inside of your ruck will get wet. You do not want things exposed that will retain water. Water = weight you don’t want to carry unless you can drink it later.  In the interior of your ruck, put the items you would need quickly in places where you can get them quickly. Food, a hat, that kind of stuff.

Doctor Guinn – nice call on this, taking care of (#1). If this were a hasty stop, which nearly every stop you’ll get in Selection will be, here is the process to take care of (#1). You do it one foot at a time in case a Cadre comes over and tells you to move out pronto. You take shoe A off, your wring sock A and insert A out as dry as you can get them, and then you put them back on. Then repeat for shoe B, sock B and insert B. If it’s a really hasty stop, keep the inserts in and only wring out your socks. Movement creates friction, which will help dry your socks and your shoes. Removing the bulk of the water allows this process to start sooner. The combat applications to this are that if you have to evade or fight immediately, you want to be able to do it as quickly as possible. That’s why you’ll do it one foot at a time.

(#4) your equipment. It should not look like a gypsy camp on the exterior or in the interior. When your ruck is submerged in the ocean or it’s raining, anything not protected gets wet. Wet = weighted = you become slower. We do not want to see any gypsy camps taking the place of rucks anymore. If you have a GR2, you can fit everything you’ll need in the interior. If you are posed with a scenario that requires a bunch or rope or something, you will have time to get it out of your ruck. The takeaway: no more gypsy camps.

And it’s time to move, so Chris and I had a brief map recon of the next movement while Class 000 formed up.

PCI’s in the military are Pre-Combat Inspections. When you’re in Special Operations, you police yourself up, but in other units and in Special Forces training, the Cadre walk around to ensure you have the appropriate equipment, with the appropriate uniform on. That kind of stuff. It’s a way to measure someone’s attention to detail, or lack thereof. And when you do something to draw attention to yourself, like wear white sunglasses and a stupid grin, you get an extra close look. And it turns out that Olof didn’t even close his ruck fully, so Chris brought the hose over. And then Olof’s grin went away.

And then everyone’s grins went away.

Mike in his happy place, below. Not a bad technique at all. When life is extremely difficult and you wish something would change, focus on the immediate and do what you gotta do to get through it. Do not start wondering how long this will go on. Do not start bargaining with yourself  — meaning, don’t say something to the effect of If this doesn’t end in 2 minutes, I’m done. Never bargain with yourself like that or else exactly what you don’t want to happen will happen. And then you’ll feel justified to walk away. All things come to an end, sometimes you just gotta ride out life’s toughest moments to get to a better place.

There will be very intense moments at Selection, there will be downtime when you’re moving on your own. Demons will come, you just gotta fight them back. And when you make it through the immediate, and you’re able to embrace the suck with a smile, look around and help your buddy out. Life’s a roller coaster, sometimes the world can use a little positivity when times are tough. So if you got it, share it.

This hose party was fun and I’m glad to share some of the pics, but the other purpose is that I want you to see the gypsy camps people are holding.  Nothing dangling from the GR2’s needed to be there. It all should have been inside the rucks.

Boots dangling. That’s my favorite. How long till those are completely saturated do you think? And when they’re saturated they’re heavy and you don’t want to wear them. Might as well have left them at home. At some point I’m sure boot-dangling Matt Francev will read this and smile and he’ll probably send me a note saying he won’t make that mistake again. And I hope nobody else does, either.

After a while, the rucks got heavier. And harder to lift and harder to squat with. And we asked not so nicely why they thought their gypsy camps were a good idea.

Everyone who showed up to Selection was good people in my book. But as with all things like this, not everybody makes it through. I wish they would have. If you’re thinking about Selection or you’re signed up, learn from their mistakes. And if you’re the type of person to sign up for something like this, you’re the type of person that can make it through to the end. That’s a bit of good advice someone told me before I went to the Q-Course. When times were tough, I fell back on the fact that people have done this before, and I was going to do it today.

And then, finally, the first long movement started. Post 3 on Selection coming next week. Something about Webb’s missing ponytail and a lot of miles with the Zodiacs.


  1. Steve says:

    Respect to those who stepped up to the challenge. Thanks to Cadre for allowing the rest of us to learn from the mistakes that were made. Anxiously awaiting the next installment.

  2. Phil C says:

    definitely another great post Jason. I’ve gotta say, your photography gets better and better, and I dig it… but what I love most in these posts are the insights, reflections, and advice- as good as anything out there, and a frequent copy/paste to my calendar’s header. Here’s to ya, & can’t wait for part III.

  3. jason says:

    Thanks, Phil. I’m still figuring out this camera stuff. And the insight stuff, too. As always, if you all have any questions about any of the posts — or want me to do posts in the future on specific topics, let me know. I work for you all, and we at GORUCK are all grateful for the support.

  4. Frank says:

    So many of these lessons apply to life away from the ruck. There really is a lot of wisdom here that can be extrapolated to dealing with life in general… great, great stuff.

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