It’s just after 9PM in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. You get the call from your team sergeant to get the trucks ready to roll out on QRF. The ANA Special Forces ODA has hit a complex IED-initiated ambush and they’ve taken multiple casualties. You feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck as you throw together a quick convoy brief to your guys and you’re off in minutes. No sweat: you’re prepared for this. It all started with Pershing Rifles at Boston University–

Rewind to freshman year of college. It’s day 5 of pledge term and you get a call to be somewhere in 10 minutes. You’re ready for this. You’ve preplanned routes, frontloaded schoolwork, thrown together a go bag, and made a linkup point with your buddies. It’s less than a week into pledge term and you’re already getting the hang of it. Given your preparation, you arrive exactly on time.

Mediocrity is not part of your vocabulary. If you want to succeed and you want to surpass your peers, Pershing Rifles is the next step in your future. Your career as a cadet and officer in the military should come in incremental steps, each paving the way for the next level of excellence. As a freshman, and as a private, you’re expected to be at the right place, at the right time, and in the right uniform. You’re not really put in a position of leadership or learning until you’re a sophomore or junior. Pershing Rifles gives you the opportunity to accelerate your knowledge and leadership capacity almost immediately. The effect is measurable as you go to LDAC and secure your E with a confidence most others will lack. IBOLC, Ranger School, Airborne School, etc., are all inherently just extensions of pledge term, since nothing the Army does is particularly hard in and of itself. It’s all in your head. If you get over it in pledge term, you’re set up for success.

I had the opportunity to work with the military’s most elite units in Afghanistan. A common theme among these men was that they all aspired to be a part of a more exclusive and better trained group. The theme rings true to Pershing Rifles as well. When I pledged, I knew that the people to my left and right were people I could depend on and trust entirely. They were better trained and more knowledgeable than anyone else. The only way you achieve trust like that is through selection processes that permit the best to rise to the top. Everything that happens in Pershing Rifles Candidate Term happens for a carefully calculated reason. It will not be easy, but nothing in life worth doing is.

I pledged in the fall of 2006 in the 115th pledge class with seven other people. Some of the closest friendships and best officers I’ve ever known have come from PRs. In a recent alumni reunion in Boston, we got together to share stories of our time in PRs. Sharing stories around a table, an overwhelming sentiment that everyone exuded was how much the experience in PRs really meant to them. In college, you definitely know you’re in something special, but it’s not until after you graduate that you really begin to understand the value of the people and experiences you had.

You’d better pledge.

1LT Musser graduated and commissioned as an Infantry Officer from BU in 2011, attending IBOLC and graduating Ranger School as a first time “Go.” He took command of a platoon in the historic 2nd BN 506th INF REGT, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the same unit depicted in Band of Brothers. He then deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry platoon leader in support of special operations.