Bottom Line Up Front
Flash cards are one of my favorite ways to study for nearly anything, and that includes studying for promotion boards and soldiering competitions. These cards are great for studying, especially if you’re a time-crunch or to keep in the company orderly room. However, for me personally, I’ve found that making the flashcards myself helps me retain the info better. So in that respect, they don’t quite hit the mark when it comes to personalized training.
Overview: Army Flashcards
I recently acquired two sets of Army Flashcards from US Patriot Tactical. The first contained cards from the Ranger Handbook, while the second was themed around Military Terms & Symbols. The first impression was great! Each pack had 100 cards of a decently heavy stock and were water resistant (at least as far as spilling coffee on them or dropping one into the mud). This is a high quality product.
However, as you’ll see below, I have very mixed opinions on these flashcards. On one hand, there’s definitely a market for out-of-the-box study materials for US soldiers, and these do the best job I’ve seen so far at compiling useful information for soldiers aimed at specific niches. On the other hand, there’s a mix of what I’d call “efficient” flash cards and “inefficient” flash cards. The more efficient flash cards deal with bite-sized nuggets of information for rapid memorization, with more complicated questions broken down into sub-questions. Too often, especially in the Best Ranger set, there were cards that just felt like they did a not-as-efficient job at conveying the information.
In Depth: Ranger School & Best Ranger Competition
Big disclaimer here: I was never a Ranger nor did I have any aspirations to become one. However, I have plenty of experience with Soldier of the Month/Year boards and promotion boards, so I’ll be leaning on that heavily for how I feel about the cards. And the best way I can describe how I feel about these cards is … meh?
Some, especially the cards dedicated to knots and securing gear (quite a few of them), are perfect and are beyond what I could create at home with an index card (largely thanks to my utterly abysmal drawing skills). The pictures are very clear as to the characteristics of the knots and the uses of the knot, while also being reversible to give a knot name and ask for a description.
And then there are the inefficient cards like the one pictured. In some cases, the charts are just copied the Ranger Handbook and cut/cropped to fit on a flashcard. These would have been much better had they been split into four separate cards, one for each movement technique and one overall question for “What are the three Movement Techniques?” I have a sneaking suspicion that the decision to design some of the cards like these was to keep the 100-cards per box number, but cards like these aren’t as valuable for studying with.
In Depth: Military Terms & Symbols
As a prior analyst, these cards were much closer to my heart. I’ve spent a lot of time with maps and symbols in the past; playing around with these cards was a blast from the past. I couldn’t find a card like the one above that has too much information on one card. It follows the tried and true KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Any staff unit or S2/G2 with fresh, incoming soldiers should have these on hand.
At first, I questioned why only a few of the cards had examples of a completed unit symbol, but I think it adds value to the cards instead of taking away from it. Being able to identify the symbols in a vacuum is better for being able to make your own symbols instead of just being able to read a military map or situation template. I wound up liking these cards a lot and they very well might find themselves passed along to some old friends who are still serving for them to use with their own soldiers.
Something that was interesting was that it seems like these were a Second Edition, as opposed to the Ranger School cards seeming to be a First Edition. That gives me a lot of hope for future revisions and new decks, and I’m looking forward to seeing them improve on the formula with different FMs and board information.
Conclusion – 3 out of 5 Stars (Sometimes 2/5, Sometimes 5/5)
When the cards work well, they work really well. They’re made of a good cardstock, they’re accurate to the source Field Manuals or Guides, and most of the visuals are well presented for memory retention. That said, I feel like there wasn’t too much in the way of customizing the information for working with flashcards, and sometimes you get stuff like the chart I talked about copied straight from the book.
If you’re a unit commander or the First Sergeant looking to stock the orderly or rec room with some study materials, these cards make a great addition for junior leaders to do some on-the-fly training. If you’re a soldier looking to study for your own purposes, they’re great in a pinch, but I’d highly recommend making your own study materials. You can grab a set of the cards at the US Patriot retail stores, or online from Army Flashcards.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.