GORUCK Constellation 017 Mini-AAR (NYC)

Background Info

Constellation is a different sort of GORUCK event; it’s not a beat-down and it’s not a “challenge” in the way that H/T/L are considered challenging. That being said, I had a lot of fun and had a great squad for the event. Think of Constellation as a “shit has hit the fan” Scavenger event, at least as it exists now in the 12-hour format. We were presented a lot of material (in what I’ll call “lectures”) and then set free to go out into the world and apply it in somewhat of an alternative-reality environment scenario.

I am excited to hear about the upcoming 24-hour version (alumni-only) happening later this Fall in DC. From what I’ve gathered from friends and cadre, it sounds like that will be the place to truly “show off” what you’ve learned at the 12-hour version and do some even funner, more competitive stuff against the other squads.

Roll-Call, Squads

For this event, there were a whole bunch of us. We were broken down into groups A-P, and my group was named J and thereafter known as “Juliet” after the phonetic code for J. Juliet consisted of 7 GRTs and 1 newbie who had never done any GR event before. We would be receiving group instruction from cadre on various topics, about ~4 squads per cadre and running lessons in parallel (i.e. we were all covering topic X at the same time, to my knowledge).

Lecture and Practical Applications Phases

The topics, as best I can remember them (because by the time the event was done I had been up for like 27 hours, so if I forgot anything, my bad):

  1. Land Nav and Terrain Association, practical application
  2. Survival/Disaster Mindset, practical application
  3. Basic First Aid, Trauma, Patient transport, practical applications
  4. Fire Starting and Water Purification, practical application
  5. Evasion and Hide Site Selection, practical application
  6. “Gasmask phase,” practical application, culminating exercise

Our area of operations for the event and some helpful suggestions from the map.

I don’t want to try and condense the various cadre teachings down into an AAR because I wouldn’t do them justice. The lectures generally followed a structure like this (left to right, mouth breathers):

Step 1 Step 2 ??? Profit
Skill (particularly #1-5 above) Uses for the skill in warzone or austere military environment Uses for the skill in disaster/SHTF environment Tips for scavenging/improvising materials to help perform the skill in SHTF environment

Dis how you gon learn today.

 The content was useful information, especially when it came to portions on how to scavenge and/or improvise materials to perform essential skills/tasks in the shit-hits-the-fan scenario a la civil unrest/rioting, natural or manmade disasters, etc. There were some strategies for finding materials and using things in ways I hadn’t thought of before. It wasn’t super-high-speed- operator-Jason-Bourne-type stuff though, so if you’re expecting that, go somewhere else.

The material we covered was easy to understand but will definitely take time (and practice!) to master. That was something cadre were consistently drilling upon us: don’t buy gear to use for disasters (I’m looking at you, preppers) without practicing its use. Don’t put yourself in a situation where your life or the lives of your loved ones depend on a skill that you think you know how to do because you saw a YouTube video on it once and the package of your gear has instructions printed on it.

Culminating Exercise

If you’ve researched GORUCK Constellation, you have likely seen the 2-liter soda bottle “gasmasks” that participants have been making. I don’t want to spoil it (and also I don’t know if your culminating exercises will be anything like Class 017, the event is still evolving), but let’s just say:

Spend as much time as you are able to on the ‘gasmask’ and getting a good seal. Tape it to your face if you have to.


Throughout the event, we were sending information via cell phone/text to GORUCK HQ in Jax Beach, FL and they were keeping score somehow based on what they were sent. At the end of the event we found out that 2 teams had tied for first place and got a slightly different patch (different color thread I think) for their success. I was a little bummed because Juliet had performed marvelously during the pracApp of the Escape and Hide Site phase which in my mind was worth approximately 14,000,000 points. *shakes fist in the general direction of GRHQ*

Who is this event good for? Everyone. If you are reading this, you like GR stuff, so go for it, you will probably have fun. If you want to have a head start on preparing for real-life SHTF scenarios (a la Hurricanes Harvey/Irma, riots in Charlottesville, etc.) then definitely do it.

If you never got to do a Jedburgh event, this is probably the next-closest thing GR will have for a while. In fact, after the event I told another Jed it reminded me of a sort of Jed x Scav hybrid. If you want more details on Jedburgh, too bad because they are not forthcoming #REDACTED. The small squad aspect, a signature Jed element, made the event fun (I think) because we got to be a close-knit group due to foraging, hiding, and running away from cadre together. #whathappensinthethicketstaysinthethicket

Team Juliet post-event and without our gassmasks, Hennessy, or “scavenged” litter poles.

Special Note: Gear Considerations

As we move closer to and into Fall (#itsfallyall), Constellation is going to turn into a very cold event. The 12-hour version had us in lecture for a decent part of the event, and I think temps were down around 60 degrees F. This isn’t typically as noticeable during a Tough because even when you stop to re-fit, etc., you are often moving shortly after and working hard so you warm up again very quickly. Constellation, not so much. We spent probably a few hours’ worth of time in lecture and the ones occurring between about 2a-5a were pretty brisk. Bring a windbreaker or sweatshirt type layer (depending on precipitation/climate) and maybe a scarf/shemagh if they don’t take up too much space.

Next up: who knows?


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