PROVO — Brigham Young University's Army ROTC program can now say it's one of the best in the country after an impressive performance at a prestigious international military skills competition last weekend.
BYU's team of 11 cadets, all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including some returned LDS missionaries, finished 10th out of 64 teams from across the world at the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at historic West Point, New York, April 13-14.
Spencer Allen, BYU's ROTC Ranger Challenge team captain and a senior from Lindon, Utah, said the 64 teams represent the most fit and capable individuals in each perspective military organization.
"By doing as well as we did, we proved that BYU Army ROTC produces some of the most elite warriors and leaders in the world, making us more capable tools in the hands of God to shape the future of our community, nation and world," Allen said.
The Sandhurst competition is designed to test physical fitness, leadership, tactical proficiency and other military skills. During the two-day event, cadets earned points for transporting heavy equipment, showcasing medical skills, along with rifle and pistol marksmanship. They also ran an obstacle course and used a boat on a lake to navigate an attack mission, among other events.
Lt. Col. Forrest "Chip" Cook, a professor of military science and commander of BYU's ROTC, praised his cadets for their preparation, training and stamina. Their goal going in was to finish in the top 10, and they achieved that against more than 700 other cadets, Cook said.
"It was probably the most physically challenging thing I have witnessed in my 20 years in the Army. Just to finish was an incredible feat," he said. "To finish in 10th place was pretty incredible considering a very competitive field. We're pretty happy."7 comments on this story
The U.S. Air Force Academy won the event, followed by the Royal Military Academy of Canada, Sandhurst Red (United Kingdom), the University of North Georgia and West Point (USCC) Gold.
The BYU cadets qualified for the Sandhurst competition by winning a regional Ranger Challenge title and 5th Brigade Ranger Challenge competition in 2017. For Allen, the highlight of the competition was seeing teamwork and heart displayed by BYU's men and women.
"Each individual inspired me with his or her grit, determination and skill," Allen said. "It was incredibly rewarding to see them perform at that level with that much heart."