2009 EPISODE 1 of 12: READY TO COMPETE
Tensions are high as Soldiers prepare for 59 hours of grueling competition.
Fort Benning, Georgia. Home to the U.S. Army Rangers and the 2009 Best Ranger Competition.
The BRC is three days of Ranger tasks spread out over 100 square miles. Over the next 59 hours, these Rangers will cover more than 65 miles on foot with a 60 pound ruck on their back competing across more than 22 individual events with very little sleep.
Colonel Douglas Flohr: Rangers lead all over the United States Army. We have for a long time. And this is really a celebration of the culture itself and of the Ranger community. It's the best of the best. It really is our Super Bowl every year.
From the beginning, the objective was clear: the competition should place extreme demands on the teams' physical, mental and technical abilities as Rangers. The standards of performance must vastly exceed those required of the average Soldier. The harsh reality is half the field will not finish the 59 hours. These Soldiers, competing in this year's event, will execute in three days what it normally takes a Soldier attending the Ranger school 61 days to learn. Last year, Staff Sergeant Cherry and Staff Sergeant Broussard were able to command the field in several events to win the competition.
SSG Shayne Cherry: The Best Ranger Competition, you know, showcases the Ranger regimen, the Ranger community. It draws a lot of attention to what we have to offer.
All of the competitors have converged on Fort Benning. Now, with less than 36 hours to the start of the event, the Rangers receive the final instructions on the tasks they will face, and prepare their individual equipment. The first order of business, sighting your weapon.
CPT Michael Zultak: This is the competitors' opportunity to zero their M4 rifles. They have 18 rounds to do it in. It's a pretty simple Soldier task. They do it at every unit, regardless of where you go.
SSG Mitchell R. Tisserand: Some of the weapons you see here, during the familiarization, is what we'll be using during the competition. This is a M1911, which was standard issue, pretty much up until the early '80s, when they switched to the M9s, like the M1 Garand, which was familiar with my grandfather.
With only a few hours left to familiarize themselves with multiple weapons systems and the tri-towers, the pressure is building. All the while, each Ranger team is sizing up the competition they will face in the days ahead.
Command Sergeant Major Mark Collazos: These guys are definitely in the warrior mode. Heart rate is a little high. Anticipation of the competition. This is the Army's best. These teams have been training for anywhere from three to six months. So, tensions are pretty high. There's some stare down going on, some assessment, because everybody here right now is a potential winner.
Next episode: the opening event of the 2009 Best Ranger Competition, the Buddy Run.
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