COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The United States Army’s 39th annual Best Ranger Competition is where the best of the best face off for three days, two nights and 60 hours of grueling competition.
In the end, only one best ranger team will stand, but they all unite under the U.S. Army’s Mission – One Force One Fight.
Many former rangers and retired service members were in the stands, supporting the 32 teams that made it to the second day of the competition.
One soldier representing a light infantry division from Fort Drum started the second day of competition in the top 10 rankings. Some say the foot march is the hardest event, but 1st Lieutenant Infantry Officer, Jack Hoover, says otherwise.
“The hardest part of this competition, you know, I think, is today here,” said 1st Lt. Infantry Officer Hoover. “This is an awesome event here at AJ McClung Stadium. But as you can see, you know, the sun’s beating down on us. You know, we’ve been at it for just over probably 30 hours now. And I think just the overall load on our body in the heat is starting to catch up with us.”
2023 is very different compared to the 37 years before it — as rangers competed in Downtown Columbus for the very first time.
The three-day competition brings Rangers from across the entire nation to test their cognitive, physical and technical skills. Comradery is at the forefront – staying true to the U.S. Army Ranger Creed.
“It’s special to be part of a community, kind of just to at least prove that, you know, you were able to accomplish something,” said Gerald Nelson, the 2005 Best Ranger Competition winner. “But it’s like these guys here, they’re not satisfied with just that and they want a new challenge. So that’s why they’re out here challenging themselves against some of the best the military has to offer.”
On day two, teams completed a lengthy obstacle course involving jumping over wooden walls, crawling beneath barbed wire, and breaching through doors. Then they suited up, zip lining and kayaking across the Chattahoochee River — to focus on tactical water movement.
Then comes the KIMs test. Soldiers memorize objects in a box and are expected to recite those objects to the judges at the end of the day after they’ve been physically and mentally tested.
April 16 is the final day of the competition.