SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA, Chile – Nine members of the 75th Ranger Regiment, from Fort Benning, Ga. participated in the Chilean Atacama Desert International Patrolling Competition 2009 held from Sept. 10-14 in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
This international event bought teams from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, United Kingdom, and Paraguay to interact, compete and share patrolling techniques as well as the fraternal bonds that are found in many of the world’s commando and special reconnaissance units.
The competition, located in northern Chile, focused on situations that were similar to those in combat. The teams had to endure stress, hunger, fatigue, and an extremely inhospitable environment and demonstrate the ability to complete assigned tasks during the competition.
“This is a physically and mentally demanding competition,” said Lt. Col. Jon Young, Army Section Chief with the U.S. Military Group in Chile. “Competitors receive an operations order corresponding to a fictional situation and country relating to a peace enforcement mission and carry out reconnaissance and direct action missions over the following 48 hours and a distance of 50 kilometers.”
The seven teams were evaluated on Troop Leading procedures, mission planning, fire support, crossing a mine field, close and long range reconnaissance, reaction to a ambush, raids on a target, and casualty evacuation. The Chilean Army acted as evaluators using standard NATO checklists to determine if the teams meet the standards for accomplishing certain tasks.
Upon the completion of the competition, each team received a score based on leadership exerted by their commanders, the time they used to cover the route and the accomplishment of tasks.
“Evaluation regarding leadership was based on observable facts, such as the leadership of the Commander on his team in order to accomplish the mission,” said Young. “Also, participants will obtain a certain score in accordance with the time they take to cover the route. Those teams that exceed that time limit will be penalized.”
The U.S. team, comprised of members from the 75th Ranger Regiment, received a Gold medal for their score in the competition along with the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina and Canada. Paraguay and Ecuador were awarded the Silver. The Chilean Army awarded the medal at the awards ceremony on Sept. 15 in Atacama. Following the competition, all seven countries participated in the closing ceremonies on Sep 17, followed by the Army Day Parade on the Sept. 19 as part of the annual Fiestas Patrias events.