Human Performance, Rehabilitation and ORA


Another physical training post advertising “insert bullshit tactical whatever training program?” No and for the record, there is nothing tactical about physical training, medicine (there are considerations for Austere/ Operational Medicine however that is a respected field in its own right) or mindset. If you are buying into these programs thinking this - you are a sucker and need more knowledge (this will most certainly be covered in another post though).

Back to task: within USASOC and our organization, we are tasked pretty heavily and with a tempo that would seem unnatural to some. Two hour sleep windows, maybe four hours, 13 mile infils on foot with 50lbs+ of personnel equipment and ladders gets very old and very taxing on the system very quickly. Endless rucks on the east coast are no ones favorite. Not to mention all the injuries you sustain through your career and the surgeries that may result. By 31, I’d had:

  • Three back surgeries (L1-L5 and multiple sacral fractures)

  • Three surgeries to my right knee with some shiny metal replacements

  • Multiple shrapnel wounds

  • Surgery to piece my bicep back together as it had essentially been separated in half

  • Broken ribs, toes and fingers, and multiple joint dislocations

And that is minuscule compared to what some of our brothers have been through. Safe to say though, rehabilitation and adapting to maintain performance is something I have certainly become proficient at. The key after each injury is to assess and develop the knowledge on the injury and its components, then treat it like a new born infant:

  • What makes that part of the body work?

  • How does it work?

  • What are the components and how do they become inflamed/ fractured/ torn/ bruised etc?

  • What core isolating drills can be utilized to develop time under tension?

The above are just a few critical points however the last is the most important to study. There is so much bullshit on the internet that it has become a full time job wading through all the incompetent posts; people just regurgitate crap from their PT instructor course without ever experiencing these injuries. Just like working your guns (get it?), collect legitimate real world data on the injury and rehabilitation required, and build yourself a scalable program from “new born infant” level to “I am going to rip out your spine”.

When I had the surgeries on my back, I didn’t walk for three months. I whittled down to 54kg and needed help going to the toilet. Experiencing this was a mental battle in itself. Most days I was drugged up to the eyeballs just stay awake because every breath was painful to the point it mentally drained me and I didn’t have enough energy to stay awake for an 8 hour day. So, I decided to give myself the all clear. I weaned off the medication and embraced the pain. There is some good and bad in this as I have now become addicted to the rebuilding phase when injured and this fuels every second of the day ‘till I’m functional again. The re-birth. I researched the injury, anatomy, how my spine should look compared to my injured state and the core stabilizing muscles required to perform functional movements. Que the lifesaver. The dead-lift. My evolution cycle from broken to functional (and being able to run when the doctors said that would never happen) looked a little like this;

  • Slow 25m walks

  • Holding onto a support and slowly lowering myself to a seated position/ starting dead-lift position

  • Completing the movement without support (starting at 1 rep then eventually 20 reps for 5 to 6 sets)

  • Completing the movement with an empty bar (starting at 1 rep then eventually 20 reps at 5 to 6 sets)

  • Completing the movement with 2.5kg weight, then finally scaling a strength and conditioning program to hit the triple digit club and look sexy with the lights on

Sounds easy but I was stuck for weeks, if not months, on certain levels which was another mental struggle in itself. Fast forward to 2018, much of the burden has been removed (for myself and my team) as we have our own Human Performance Cell that would make any gym goer feel like he has died and gone to heaven. The idea of going to the gym and training has literally been turned into a science and the performance gains are the masterful piece of art at the end of the journey. Programmed sessions and rest breaks are reinforced to the second from watchful staff collecting every piece of available data, and hovering over you for every second of your session. Paired with the nutritional program, which is a well respected art in itself, at 6ft my body transformed from 92 kg walk around weight to 103kg, fully functional and able to maintain all KPIs for the unit.

2018 - 6 months after being assigned to my current organization and post pipeline. My last deployment had me at 108kg but I’m currently sitting on 94 due to injury…….again.

2018 - 6 months after being assigned to my current organization and post pipeline. My last deployment had me at 108kg but I’m currently sitting on 94 due to injury…….again.


After all that, what do we have to give you? The Operator Readiness Assessment. Essential for all deploying members who are injured and the benchmark within USASOC for those about to deploy. It’s nothing compared to the usual training programs but, as always, it’s a great assessment tool for establishing baseline standards and seeing where you currently sit amongst your brothers and sisters - yes there are chicks who have been in special operations long before this stupid debate. Thank you and amen.



To assess the ability to complete a practical scaling task, operators were required to ascend and descend a 20’ caving ladder while using a hand-overhand, heel-to-toe technique. Complete ascent and descent was required to pass this event.


To test the ability to ascend/descend obstacles while wearing body armor, operators were required to traverse a series of five 5 feet high walls spaced 10 feet apart. Completion of this event in a maximum of 29.5 seconds was required to pass.


This drill tests the ability to change direction and accelerate/decelerate while wearing body armor, demonstrate the ability for the cardiovascular system to recover from stress, and generate power while completing repetitive sprints that require change of direction. Two repetitions were required in each direction, and each repetition must be completed in a maximum of 13.5 seconds to pass.

X Agility Drill

X Agility Drill


This event was included to assess muscular endurance, ability to transition between various tactical positions, and both lateral and linear acceleration/deceleration along with change of direction while carrying a rifle. Operators were required to complete this event within 79 seconds to pass.

ORA Fig1.png


This event was included because of its realistic operational jump height, using a dismount from a Humvee bed as a comparison. It tests the ability to absorb impact while wearing body armor, lower-body strength by adequate control of landing, and joint and core integrity due to repetitive jump completion. Eight repetitions of a successful ascent and descent from a 48” box were required to pass.


To test single leg strength and stability while wearing body armor, lower-body muscular endurance,

and an ability to scale uneven terrain, operators were required to step completely on and off of a 24” box while alternating legs. Ten repetitions were required per leg, and the event must be completed within 93.5 seconds to pass.


To test lateral movement ability and knee, hip, and back mobility while wearing body armor, operators were required to navigate over ten 30-inch hurdles and under 42-inch hurdles. Navigating these hurdles in both directions without touching the hurdles was required to pass.


To test lower-body strength and endurance while wearing body armor and efficient linear movement of a weight object, operators were required to push and drag a 125-pound sled. Pushing the sled 25 yards and then dragging the sled 25 yards within 47.5 seconds was required to pass.


To test total body strength, power, and endurance while evaluating the ability to move a wounded soldier under load, operators were required to drag a 165 pound dummy. Dragging the dummy 25 yards within 22.5 seconds was required to pass.


To test grip strength and endurance, core and lower-body stability, and tactical ability to carry objects like ammo cans or a litter, operators were required to carry one 80 pound kettle bell in each hand over a 50 yard distance. Completion of the test within 29.5 seconds was required to pass.


To test the ability to sustain a walking pace while fatigued with body armor, and over a gradually increasing gradation, operators were required to walk on a treadmill at 2.5 miles per hour over 6 stages. Stages 1–5 lasted 2 minutes except stage 6, which lasted 5 minutes. Stage 1 was completed at a 5% grade. The grade was increased 5% each stage until stage 5, for a maximum of 25% incline. Stage 6 was completed at 0% incline. Completion of the event was required to pass.

PT Operator Readiness Assessment.png

Our Perth team will be conducting LEO only events, PAX - 10, that will cover a variety of drills and scenarios with the above as the baseline measurement. This is your little INTEL nugget - start training!