PROVO — With a regional Ranger Challenge title in the bag, Brigham Young University’s Army ROTC has its collective eye on Texas.
That’s because Texas is this month’s stop on a three-level progression in the Ranger Challenge, a prestigious annual military skills competition within the United States Army Cadet Command for college-based Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.
And it’s because BYU’s Army ROTC wants to do what its counterparts at the University of Texas-Austin did last year on a national scale.
BYU won last month’s 2017 Regional Ranger Challenge Competition, as 14 ROTC teams from Utah, Colorado and Wyoming converged at Camp Williams for the weekend event.
By winning, BYU advances to the Fifth ROTC Brigade Ranger Challenge competition, to be held Nov. 18 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation near San Antonio, Texas. It will be joined by other advancing teams representing the brigade's eight-state area — Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Texas won the brigade’s 2016 competition and advanced to an international competition called the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition, held at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
The April 2017 international event featured 62 teams from 12 international military academies, four U.S. service academies and eight collegiate ROTC programs. Texas finished 10th overall in the Sandhurst competition and won the ROTC cup as the top ROTC team.
None of the Ranger Challenge courses or events are alike. Teams are composed of nine members, with at least one female and at least one representative of each of the four class levels, from freshman to senior. Members work together, as the entire team must compete and complete the military skills course.
In last month’s regional competition, the nine-member teams covered some 25 miles over rugged Camp Williams landscape, going from skill station to skill station. Events included rifle shooting, weapons assembly and disassembly, land navigation, functional fitness tests, communications and tactical combat casualty care.
Activities included pushing an armored Humvee, carrying a loaded stretcher, packing 60-pound sandbags up four flights of stairs and crafting flotation devices out of ponchos and rucks (backpacks) to forge the Jordan River. Overnight temperatures dipped to subfreezing levels, so organizers had cadets pack their rucks along the water’s edge instead.Comment on this story
BYU won the regional competition for the first time in four years, after having dominated top honors for much of the previous several decades. BYU is looking to return to the top international event in April. BYU finished fourth in the 2009 Sandhurst Cup, trailing a Canadian team, a British team and a West Point squad.
The Sandhurst Cup began in 1967 when the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst — the British army’s initial officer training academy, known simply as Sandhurst — offered a military officer’s sword as the top prize for an inaugural military training competition.
In the United States, more than 300 colleges field ROTC teams to compete in the annual Ranger Challenge competition, which ROTC programs refer to as the equivalent of their "varsity sport."