FORT BENNING, GA – The field is in place for another weekend of agony, angst, and triumph.
The 29th installment of the David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition begins tomorrow with an opening ceremony at 6 a.m. on Camp Rogers at Harmony Church. Fifty duos of infantrymen will then set out on one of the Army’s premier showdowns, a 60-hour grind that will test their mental strength, physical endurance and heart.
“Every BRC is special,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Dean, a spokesman at the Ranger Training Brigade, which oversees the Best Ranger Competition. “We are always coming up with new and exciting events and always trying to do it bigger and better. This is an opportunity to come see our nation’s finest demonstrating what we do best.”
He said the 2012 course will be just as grueling as ever — the opening day will have competitors moving about 50 miles in a pair of foot marches, an urban obstacle course and day orienteering.
“A competitor must be strong mentally because he’s about to go through a competition with no real knowledge of what to expect,” Dean said. “He’s got to have the physical endurance to tell his body to push through that unknown. It takes a lot of heart.”
“This competition demonstrates what Rangers are all about. It puts the competitors through long and strenuous events with no real knowledge of what will happen next, much like combat,” Dean said.
The Darby Queen, fast-rope insertion and extraction system operations and urban obstacle course are among the traditional spectator favorites on tap again. New this year is a mortar familiarization fire event, set for Friday on Malone 24. Soldiers will engage stationary targets with a 60 mm mortar system.
After sunrise Saturday, the lineup features Day Stakes and the start of night orienteering at Todd Field. Malvesti Field will be the site of a buddy run that afternoon. Highlights on Day 3 include the helocast/swim and water confidence test in Victory Pond, another FRIES maneuver onto York Field at Main Post and a closing buddy run to Freedom Hall and the finish line.
Dean said it takes a unique brand of Ranger to simply survive, let alone win. Not everyone is willing to put his body and mind through such a punishing, arduous stretch of events. The sleep deprivation alone might be enough to discourage most from even attempting it, he said.
“When Rangers are faced with this and their limits are tested, they do it for their families, for their country, but most importantly, for the person standing next to them,” he said. “We thrive on the ability to test our limits for our Ranger buddies standing next to us. It lets each other know that we will always be there no matter what, and we’ll never leave a fallen comrade behind.”
The awards ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. Monday in Marshall Auditorium at McGinnis-Wickam Hall.