Story by Bryan Gatchell on 04/19/2018FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 17, 2018) -- A team from the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade from Fort Benning, Georgia, received recognition as "Best Rangers" during an awards ceremony April 16 at Fort Benning.
Sgts. 1st Class Anthony Allen and Joshua Rolfes, ARTB, took and maintained an early lead against 50 other Ranger-qualified teams during the 35th annual Best Ranger Competition April 13 through 15 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The teams for 2018 included Soldiers from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 25th Infantry divisions; the 1st Cavalry Division; the 1st Armored Division; the 10th Mountain Division; the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions; the 3rd Cavalry Regiment; the ARTB; the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team; the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard); U.S. Army Alaska; U.S. Army Special Operations Command; the 75th Ranger Regiment; the 193rd and 198th Infantry brigades; the U.S. Military Academy; the U.S. Army CBRN School; the Cyber Protection Brigade; the Intelligence Center of Excellence; the Maneuver Center of Excellence; and the National Guard. New to the competition was a Ranger-qualified team from the U.S. Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).
The competition began with a run at 6:30 a.m. April 13 that started at Camp Rogers, and it did not finish until a buddy run that concluded at 5 p.m. April 15 back at Camp Rogers. The competitors ran through obstacle courses at Malvesti Field, Selby Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, Dekkar Strip and Camp Darby. They ran in body armor, and they carried slosh pipes, weighted medical splints, tires, lifting stones, and bags filled with sand. They swam across and performed a combat water survival assessment at Victory Pond. They performed a fast rope insertion from a helicopter onto York Field. They conducted weapons firings at six ranges at the main post. They marched long distances. They performed orientation at night over long distances through the mountains of northern Georgia. They performed a variety of technical and tactical tasks both at day and at night.
After the first day of the competition, only the top 24 teams could continue. After the second day, only 16 were allowed to continue.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff for the U.S. Army, was part of the official party during the awards and spoke during the event.
"Every one of these competitors on these 16 teams, every one of the competitors in all 51 teams, every single one of them is a winner," Milley said during the ceremony, and then turning to the competitors, "You represent all that is good about the American Soldier, about the American citizen, and about our entire country.
"It's an incredible test," continued Milley. "It's a test of teamwork, and it's a test of endurance. It's a test of resilience, and it's a test of perseverance. It's a test of all the things you think of when you think of the word 'Ranger.'
"They are the 100th of a percent of the top one percent our greatest nation has to offer," said Col. Douglas G. Vincent, ARTB commander, during the awards ceremony. "What a truly inspiring performance by these Rangers from all across the Army and the nation, who had the intestinal fortitude to accept this challenge and compete to be the best Ranger in the world this weekend!"
Allen, who works with the 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Dahlonega in northern Georgia, where the ARTB conducts the mountain phase of Ranger School, found the night orienteering to be one of the most difficult events of the competition.
"They surprised us and took us to Dahlonega, Georgia," said Allen. "And that is very mountainous. The rucks were very heavy, and it was raining, and as a team we had to dig deep and just keep pushing forward through mountain laurel and thorns. And the mountains up there -- it was rough -- they are very unforgiving."
"We wanted to go hard from the start of the competition so that we wouldn't have to be so intense at the end, and it worked that way," said Rolfes.
Both Allen and Rolfes competed together previously. For Rolfes, not only was this his sixth time competing, he also coached the other ARTB Soldiers.
"It means a lot to us as a team, as friends, as Ranger brothers, the Ranger community, and the ARTB especially," said Rolfes. "Our peers that we work with on a day-to-day basis -- their support -- they're very happy for us."
The David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition, organized annually by the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, was founded in 1982 to determine the best Ranger in the Ranger Department. The competition has since expanded to include all Ranger-qualified Soldiers throughout the Army and other willing Ranger-qualified service members from sister services.